As an HR person, I am so tired of hearing how bad HR can be.
There is good and bad in every profession. There are doctors who leave medical instruments behind when sewing up patients, and there are lawyers who defend the serial killers yet sleep well at night. There are also doctors saving lives every day. No profession is pure perfection.
So here is the deal. If you are an HR leader, please stop doing the stuff that makes people think you suck. Stop it now. Here is my quick advice:
Stop being black and white. I get there are laws, but for just a second, let’s put those to the side. There is grey in everything – every day, every person, every situation is different. Just because it is easier for you to go to your rule book every time you have a decision to make, does not make what you are doing right. Start living in the grey and get comfortable with it. Solve problems, don’t look up the answer. There is a time and place for rules and regulations, but most of the time, rules make you look like the ice queen (or king) and aren’t helping anyone.
Know your business. Understand the impact that your work has on the bottom line of the business you work in. Present HR issues as business issues, not as fluffy, cloud-like, picnic-time, keep people happy, make-YOUR-life-easier, issues. Even a CEO that is great at the people side won’t care about this stuff if there is no tie to the balance sheet. Learn your business, and always be thinking about the value you are adding, or drag you may be creating. Think about it in dollars and cents.
Do not let your office be an open portal for drama. People need to trust you and come to you and talk to you. This is how you are tied in to all things people and how you know and own the culture. What you do with their trust is where the slip up can occur. Coach people to handle their own issues. And do not gossip. Ever.
Stop trying to get a seat at the table. If you don’t have one, you are in the wrong company. Even acting like you SHOULD have a seat at the table when you don’t is embarrassing, even though it is true. Either you don’t have the skill set, or the company you work for doesn’t care. Decide what it is and make the right change.
I have a new found appreciation for the attorney that has to listen to countless lawyer jokes, stereotyping their profession. Please, let’s fix these things before someone writes a book of bad HR jokes (not that I actually think someone would buy that book). Let’s let the lawyers take the brunt!