Thoughts about hr and management in the real world – extra information I couldn't fit in my books!.
Over the last few years I have trained, worked with or met thousands of HR people. Many of us working in HR are trying to transform what we deliver, grow our business skills, be innovative and deliver ROI so our senior leaders and managers engage with HR. These are the HR people who will change our future.
The HR people I meet that are not doing our profession any favours are process bound, risk averse, always saying no and being incredibly operational without understanding the big picture. While this is useful for some HR operational work, I’m meeting more and more of these people who have taken on senior HRM or HRBP roles and don’t know what they should be doing. Managers don’t respect them and they get the derogatory tag of being an ‘HR lady’.
An interesting thing happened to me a couple of weeks ago. Our MD pointed out to me that I was being a complete HR lady. And I realised that he was absolutely right.
What had I been doing?
I had reasons for all of it, as well as the fact I had too much to do and not having enough time to do it in (familiar territory for most of us in HR!). But I didn’t like being called an HR lady, not one little bit. And I didn’t like that I was actually acting like the HR lady I described above.
So I stopped, and I changed back into the HR person I normally am and want to be.
So why does it happen?
In HR we do have to be risk averse. We do have to consider what we’re delivering against managers workloads. We have to check processes will comply with law so we can minimise risk. We try and deliver what managers ask for. We try and make sure we don’t bombard managers or employees with information.
All of these things can be useful in HR.
But any strength pushed to an extreme can become a weakness.
I was tired, and had too much to do so retreated too far into the HR mind-set that we sometimes need to have (and should sometimes have). The trouble was it can backfire if we become too negative, shut down information, don’t challenge ourselves and our managers and stop delivering things which in actual fact would be useful for our customers.
If you’re reading this, I’d like to ask – have you taken time recently to step back and review what type of HR person you’ve become? Is it what you want to be? If not, what changes can you make? Because I think it’s only when we stop being the ‘HR lady’ will HR be really valued and change our businesses for the better.
Note: just because it’s called an HR lady, doesn’t mean I don’t see the same behaviours from some of the men in HR. And I’m sure you guys really don’t like being called an HR lady!!