For the past 13 years, I have loved working in HR. When I first started out as an HR trainee, I felt there could be no greater job than to work with Human Resource Management. I was passionate about recruiting great candidates for exiting opportunities. I was excited about influencing company policies; setting new standards for paid parental leave, flexible working hours and working from home. I was passionate about developing leadership training sessions and offering employee development workshops.
I know that many (most) of you don’t think highly of HR. And I am not going to blame you for that. Management’s expectations for performance, results and service levels of the HR function rarely match the allocated headcount or salary budget. When managers play the blame game, the finger usually points to HR. “HR said I had to cut my team by ten percent” … “HR didn’t approve your pay raise” … “HR says we’re not allowed to hire more people at this point” … “HR said we couldn’t support your request for that training”.
The truth is, we don’t actually make policies in HR. We don’t decide pay grades or salary regulations. We don’t make up headcount or training budgets. We don’t decide performance ratings. And of course we shouldn’t. When HR is a valued support function, we influence managers’ decisions. We are the leaders’ sparring partner, who can provide perspective (industry benchmarks, current trends, cross-organizational overview and coach effective leadership approaches).
When the leaders we work with are great functional managers with decent people skills, (I believe) we have the greatest job in the world. When managers respect HR as an equal sparring partner, we get to plan, systematize and execute on management processes that hopefully move our organization towards becoming a great place to work and consequently, a successful business in our market.
Unfortunately that is not always the case. Most HR people I know, are passionate, fiery souls, who really want to make a difference. They work ridiculous hours at an outrageously low salary. (More often than not, HR is a one (wo)man show running recruitment, training, payroll, leadership coaching, management sparring, performance management, on-boarding, off-boarding and what not.) They are driven by a higher purpose to make a difference for the employees, who wants to move to the next pay grade, become a team leader, become a better manager, get the time off, get their desired training approved, or travel expenses reimbursed. I passionately call them “buffers of bad management”.
From dawn till dusk (weekends and holidays), HR people are trying to make it okay for all the employees, who are losing faith in their organization, becoming disengaged, are frustrated with unfair, discriminating, unreasonable policies, or are just ramming into a wall because nobody is really listening to them. I respectfully tip my hat to all of the hard-working HR people out there.
On a positive note, I have a feeling that the workplace is changing. Many organizations are starting to prioritize leadership development and employee engagement activities, dedicating a larger budget for training, benefits and work environment. However, I have to be honest and say, I do not have the patience to wait for the change to truly come through for HR.
I want to feel like I am making a difference in my work today. I want to add value and help businesses succeed in both the short and long term. Over the past ten years, I know that my teams and I have achieved great results and truly made a difference to the organizations, we have been a part of. But we have paid a very high price sacrificing personal time and family life. So I am declining offers to join a new HR team. I love HR – but I have decided that my time is up, I have paid my dues.
Good luck, guys!
(This post was originally posted on LinkedIn)