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Warning: Don’t Become the HR Professional Employees Love to Hate

How many times have you encountered an employee who was afraid to come to HR for guidance? The employee who wasn’t sure if HR only supported managers, but not them? The employee who thought HR only did hiring and firing. The employee who still calls HR, personnel. I must say, comments like these grind my gears. As an HR leader who performs with great integrity and an authentic passion for what I do, even on my worst day in the world of “you can’t make this stuff up”, comments like this are cringe-worthy. So I ask myself how do I stay positive? Prevent bitterness? Shift pre-existing perceptions?

In my continuous journey of self-improvement and elevating #HRExcellence I’ve repeatedly asked myself, “How do I avoid becoming the HR person everyone loves to hate?” Everyone hates Chris, Mondays, imperfectly smashed loaves of bread, smart cars that misrepresent unoccupied parking spots and people who double dip. HR occasionally falls somewhere in between them all and, although hate is probably too strong of a word, a splash of it lingers in employee perceptions. We often become the scapegoat: “Well HR said…” We are also omitted from candid conversations; “Shhhh…Don’t say that….HR is here.” Our gift and expertise empower us to simultaneously strike a harmony and balance being the voice of the company and the voice of the customer. #TheLifeOfAnHRRockstar #TheStruggleIsReal

Here are 4 quick tips to spread the love, trust, purpose and value of HR and to help shift employee mindsets in your everyday life. #HRLife of course. They may not be remarkably revolutionary but serve as friendly reminders to yield positive partnerships, communications and impact in your organizations. In my experience, they’ve helped me achieve success in turning a “why did I come here” to “I’m so glad I came to you, thank you.”

· Become a valued business partner. There is a lot of depth in this statement. As simple as this sounds there is most certainly a secret sauce to knowing the businesses you support and the people in them. Relationships and trust are critical to your success and being able to tactfully and respectfully navigate communications across all levels of an organization is a major key. Figure out which ingredients your teams have a taste for and define your recipe for success that aligns with your organization’s values. Don’t forget to stir the pot sometimes…challenge the status quo!

· Lead with integrity and influence regardless of authority. You may hear managers groan about another email from HR regarding performance reviews or a request for them to document employee conversations. They may even resist when we challenge reorganizations that don’t sync to organizational priorities. #BlahBlahHR Challenge yourself to be the coach that helps them realize the “why” and “how” when they don’t have the patience or approach to be bothered with the “what” and “who”. Influence with intent backed by integrity and ethics. One of the great features of HR that I absolutely love is that our influence potential is limitless; it goes beyond hierarchy. “People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe” ― Simon Sinek, Author & Motivational Speaker

· Show up and show out. Be present for your teams. Show up to team meetings, company picnics, department brainstorming sessions and team buildings. Lend a hand beyond typical “HR stuff”. Explore and identify common interests with the business groups you support. Whether it’s Game of Thrones (nope, I don’t watch it) or the Food Network (one of my personal favorites), what links you to someone on your team? Maybe it’s bird watching or playing Angry Birds; find your match. Extract the “human” from human resources and relate to others. Recognize and praise great work, collaboration, innovation and those most-improved in public, with peers and during 1:1 conversations. Help people get to know you beyond your title, not just “the guy or gal in HR.”  Embrace your stakeholders and form partnerships.

· Take care of yourself. We give so much of ourselves to our organizations and the people in them. Literally. It can be exhausting sometimes. Raise your hand (or wine glass) if you recently needed a full inhale and exhale while exiting the building after a taxing work day. Simply put and easier said than done, but commit to your #HRWellbeing. Take a moment to exercise, meditate, explore mindfulness, take a walk or listen to a podcast. We can’t help others be their best if we’re not at our best.

Have some thoughts on this topic? I’d love to hear from you.

Did you know that HRACC events positively contribute to your #HRWellbeing and professional development? We create the perfect opportunity for you to take a time out from the office and home, exhale and network with other HR professionals while also absorbing trending and value-added HR content.

Don’t miss our next events: May 9 for 2019 Benefit Strategies and Trends with Lockton and May 16 with our global partner Lee Hecht Harrison:  A half-day program to help you juice up your HR career.


Orlena Cowan-Bailey, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
HRACC Chapter President