adding value…

On a regular day in my previous life (work life, that is) I arrived to the office, already thinking about my to-do list for the day.  Things to do, people to see, places to go.  A colleague (who was not in HR) walked up to me and handed me a magazine, with a big smile on his face.  As I read the title (and I believe I recall correctly that this was on the front cover of Fast Company magazine), I read the title.  I then heard snickering and noticed a group of my colleagues (none of them in HR) all watching from down the hall to see my reaction.  I am sure you can guess that the article handed to me was “Why We Hate HR” in Fast Company magazine.  I didn’t take the time to read through all of it at that moment, and took it in stride, since I knew that I had a good relationship with the operations team I supported, but I vowed to study this article so I could learn a thing or two about why managers and others in the business world are less than thrilled with their HR teams.

Some of this article helped me learn how to better connect with managers and others that I support in my role as an HR professional.  Some of it was deflating and hurtful, and allowed for some jokes at my expense, and that of the profession, which got a little old.  You can read the article for yourself, (SHRM even created a reading guide for it) and I think you should.  Take from it what you can.

Here is what I learned (and what I am still working on):

1.  Don’t do HR for HR’s sake.  I have to check myself on this regularly.  Is what I am doing helping or hurting the attraction, retention, and development of staff?  Thinking outside the HR box is difficult, but getting used to challenging the status quo for the greater good can be enlightening and rewarding.  And that brings me to…

2.  Get out of the 4 walls of HR once in a while, both figuratively and literally.  We have a lot to do each day, but making the time to connect (in person!) with the groups and individuals we support and understand their challenges is worth the time.  It opens us up to a greater perspective and broadens our knowledge about our customers (both internal and external), our competitors, and the state of the business.  And this ties in with…

3.  Read what your internal customers are reading.  This can be difficult if supporting a highly technical team, but find out where they get information to keep them fresh in their professional lives.  Some of their favorite websites and blogs actually have articles about stuff we talk about in our training sessions and our meetings, but it is enlightening to see it from a different angle.  For example, some of the best leadership and management tools I have recommended were actually ones that never came across the HR desk or that of my HR colleagues.  They were part of websites or blogs that reach our leaders and staff in a way HR cannot always do.  And some of this stuff is excellent!  I want to know what that stuff is!

In a world where change is happening fast, I want to constantly strive to add value.  Rather than spend any energy on contradicting Mr. Hammonds views and opinions (SHRM’s reading guide did this for me already), I seek to take what I can from the article, leaving the rest behind.  And if it helps anyone make improvements and add credibility to HR, then maybe it wasn’t so bad.

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