Dear HR

I had an unusual request this week from a reader. Would I publish a guest post from a fellow HR professional (overseas based) who has recently been through a shoddy redundancy process and so wishes to remain anonymous? Once I read the piece I agreed immediately. There are good reasons why the person doesn’t wish to be identified and I respect that. I am happy to share this with you on their behalf as a reminder that we deal with people’s lives and, yes, it damn well matters.

Dear HR

shutterstock_200035310Like the nursery rhyme of the little girl with the little curl right in the middle of her forehead, when you’re good, you’re very very good….but when you’re bad, goodness me, you’re utterly horrid. With power and influence comes responsibility and accountability. You can’t always be the good guy, befriending everyone and telling them what you think they want to hear, whilst also implementing stuff that will knock people for six, crushing them and their plans, with no heed for the impact you’re causing. You can’t become popular by simply being nice to everyone, when at the same time your actions tell a different story. Your values matter, your actions matter and how you implement them matters perhaps most of all.

It’s never OK to dodge accountability, to blame others, to lie in the hope you will not be discovered. Tread softly in the knowledge that everyone around you is human, with lives that we sometimes know little of, deserving of respect, honesty, proper process, time, fairness, trust. If you’ve stopped caring, if you’ve stopped thinking about the impact you have over others, you’ve stopped being good at your job. Can you look yourself in the eye and swear you’ve done your best, kept your integrity, acted in the way you would wish to be treated? Even if you’re honest with no one else, be true to yourself with the answer that you give. It matters.

HR, perhaps we’re in the spotlight more than others. Perhaps we are implementing what others have instructed us to. But know this: it’s our job to challenge, to influence, to create a way forward that enables people to be treated fairly. It’s not just our job, of course it isn’t. But we can never be good, if we don’t absolutely own how people are treated in our businesses, on our watch. To turn our backs on that is beyond horrid.

I’m an optimist…I know that the horrid is rare. I know, I trust, I hope that the good far outweighs the bad. That even the horrid can change their ways and accept accountability….if they are brave enough. So please, HR, let’s remember who we are and where we’ve come from. Let’s do better and be the best versions of ourselves we can be. Let’s make it count and make the good what we’re remembered for, the positive impact, the small difference that only one person may notice. The big stuff and the small stuff, the complex and the straightforward, let’s never forget that it all affects humans, just like us. And that it all matters.

One Of Your Own x

8 thoughts on “Dear HR

  1. Vaughan Granier says:

    Very good article and a reminder to us all. Often executives are seeking a rubber stamp of something they want to “get away with” quickly, and we can easily say “yeah you can walk that thin line it should be ok”

    The reality is as this article says. We are also guardians of the workplace and its intricate detail, and its our job to hold our decision makers to account and encourage them to be the best they can be as people; authentic, credible and best-of-breed leaders.

  2. vanessapye says:

    Great article thanks!

    I think “human resources” lends itself to the impersonal ie humans are just resources…However a re think ie Employee Experience Department would I think fundamentally shift the focus.

    Unfortunately I think this persons experience isn’t isolated. In my last role I saw it more focused around compliance and risk ie there is the line how close are you to it type of advice. Never about employee experience, culture or engagement

  3. Robin says:

    Very well put, and it’s a sentiment I try to stick to. Absolutely agree with Nikki also; we are sometimes the last voice of humanity when dealing with difficult decisions and should be responsible for bringing business managers back down to the realities of their decisions and how we can minimise the fallout.

  4. Editor says:

    HR is often a lonely, thankless task. It’s so helpful to have a reminder of why we do it. Just because those who we challenge don’t thank us, it doesn’t mean we’re doing it wrong, or should stop doing what we’re doing.

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