We in HR get a bad rap. Possibly because the good news we have to share is limited to “congratulations, you’re hired” and “congratulations, you’re promoted” – the latter being less than 10% of the workforce annually. [Source: SHRM].
And yet – if you ask most HR professionals why they’re there, at the heart of their career choice is a desire to make a difference. We’re not heartless, dream-stopping ogres bent on breaking the will of employees. (Honest!) And we don’t contribute any less than our business colleagues with finite degrees in Engineering, Accounting, Physics, Medicine, etc.
- Broad focus. HR professionals leap agilely from function to function, business to business, industry to industry. Everyone else’s speciality becomes our speciality. We’re responsible for knowing not only the business in which we work, but also the competitive landscape for talent, pay and engagement.
- Deep knowledge. In an average day, an HR professional will need to be competent in compensation practices, benefit policies, labor laws and case law in addition to the professional career ladders of those we employ. We are continual learners – gathering knowledge from each other and from business functions.
- Organized (somewhat). Our workdays are unpredictable – and hence some days seem executed haphazardly. The best time management techniques can be blown apart by a sudden need to address an employee or manager emergency. When the CXO calls, HR answers. . . no matter what else was on your plate that day.
- Right brained/Left brained. We are not scientists. We are not artists. We are both. To be exceptionally supportive of a business, we need to be able to interpret and apply complex policies and technologies and be creative in sculpting these to our own organization.
- Oxymoronic. We both love and hate our jobs. We’re here in HR because we like people – we largely appreciate differences, we are interested in what people do and how they behave and we are dedicated to helping people become the best version of themselves. But these aspirations also wear us down. Reality commands more of our time be devoted to tasks or to managers than to the average employee.
In an average day, the HR professionals I know have more on their plates – taking them in more different directions – than any other profession I know. We serve many different masters. And, our decision making is constantly affected by what we know has to be done and the personal impact we know change will make on the individuals we came to serve.
This I know – because I have been an HR professional and I have sat on the side of technology attempting to implement more efficient, cost effective and compliant procedures. I know the HR professionals who hesitate pushing forward with change and I know why. We hesitate because we care.
Hug an HR professional today. Or ….maybe not. Because if you do that you could be accused of inappropriate behavior. Just say thanks.