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Thursday, 22 February, 2024

A love letter to HR

A love letter to HR … HR Doesn’t Need To Play Small – They Too, Can Have It All?
Firstly, let’s get clear about what I mean. By no means is the HR role small! Business owners heavily depend on the person in this role to lead and guide their teams to deliver the business objectives.

Having said that, HR professionals will often feel like they are not valued and appreciated in the business and find themselves in battle against managers, directors, employees and with themselves.

I remember an old Regional Store Director turning up to one of our regional HR meetings and telling us quite frankly, that he had no confidence in us as a function and he thought we were too empathetic and not in touch with what the business really needed.

Having just been on a course on “How to show more empathy in the workplace” two weeks prior, I was finding myself conflicted about what the job was really about. What was I supposed to be doing? Was it all about the business and not showing empathy, or was it about listening to people?

As we sat around the conference table and if I’m honest, some of them did appear to me as though they were doing the company and the employees a favour by turning up for work, I’m not just giving you an opinion here, on speaking to a former colleague about working together to deliver a project to improve engagement, she replied “as long as I tick a box that’s all that matters!”

A love letter to HR

Being outside the corporate world, it’s no different, I have heard many directors refer to HR as “Human Remains”. At networking events, some business owners expressed their confusion about what HR actually is or does.

And how many of you have been approached by employees from other organisations who have contacted you to discuss how their HR person hasn’t supported them with a personal matter. They want to know if you could offer some assistance.

Working in HR for well over 25 years, like me, I’m sure you would approach them and their issue objectively, as there are always two sides to a story. Nevertheless feeling disappointed in being let down by a HR colleague in arms.

It can be tough for HR. I can acknowledge that I have seen many HR professionals, who work long hours and are dedicated to their teams and their businesses, (especially since Covid-19 HR) really step up to learn as much as possible. They do this to support the employees and their business, going all out and doing whatever it takes. But this has also been at a cost to their own well-being.

Many feeling overwhelmed, stressed out and anxious for their own jobs.

All of this further results in HR professionals feeling less than confident and more reason for others to undermine and question the brand and the service that HR provides. They can end up feeling unhappy in their role, constantly on the job market looking for opportunities where the grass appears to be greener.

So, it can seem that if you are confident and own it, you are being judged for being so. If you are not confident, it could be determined that you’re not worth your salary.

This can mean that the HR function is criticised for what you do and don’t do. For example, if things go wrong its HR’s fault, if things go right, HR had nothing to do with it.

A love letter to HR what’s the solution?

It’s quite simple, HR needs to stop working so hard to please everyone. Let’s get back to basics, can you remember why you decided on a career in HR? Is it really what you want to be doing or did you just do it because it was offered to you at the time?

I wanted to be in HR, I wanted to be someone who made a difference to the people in the workplace, someone who could inspire them to BE, DO and HAVE more. I wanted to create an environment where people could develop and grow and do it with dignity and respect.

How did I do that when I wasn’t very confident, scared of anyone in authority, hated networking and small talk, often felt judged by others? I was full of doubt and worries about my future. I was always questioning whether I was making the right decisions and completely petrified about challenging anyone.

I made a choice! A choice to own it and empower myself and create a life where I could have it all and never play small again. In fact, I went back to that Regional Director and shared my vision with him.

A love letter to HR? The starting point is to ask WHY you are doing it.

  1. So, why are you doing it? What excites and inspires you about your role? Who do you want to BE for your team? When we talk about the team, I mean the whole team. I owned my role in the business, who I wanted to be for the directors, the line managers, the employees, the customers and the suppliers, all of it! This wasn’t just about what the job, the company and the people could give me, it was about what I could give to the job, the company and the people. It wasn’t about who they were for me, it was about who I could be for them!

The job can be as small and detailed as the job description given to you or as big and wide as you want to make it. Whilst on the subject of job descriptions, although I was an employee in the organisation, I created myself as a leader for the people that I served.

  1. Begin with the end in mind! – what is the legacy you want to leave behind when you do move on. Every Manager that I worked with described me as the best HR manager they ever worked with and I have a great relationship of mutual respect and friendship with all of them. Employees that I worked with from over 20 years ago connect with me to acknowledge how I helped them create a better future. Have a clear vision of what you want your brand to represent.
  2. Own your brand and the service that you provide! Don’t just have a list of values written down because they sound great. Connect with the values that matter to you and own your brand, the service that you and your team provide is a reflection of your standards and your integrity.
  3. Create your career path based on your values and your vision for your life. Make sure you have one of these with a clear Personal Development Plan.
  4. Work on your own development, work on your mindset, develop a toolbox that you can tap into to. Focus on operating as a leader, don’t be fooled into just doing the bare minimum of a job description like other employees. Work on your mindset every day. Read books about leadership and mindset, attend courses and network, surround yourself with peers that support you and mentors that believe in you. Everything I invested in my own development has resulted in increasing my value in the marketplace and more importantly my sense of self-worth.

This is my love letter to HR …

Su Patel
Su Patelhttp://www.hrtrainingandconsulting.com/
Su Patel is a Coach and Mentor for HR professionals, helping HR Directors, Head of HR and HR Leadership teams to develop confident and credible HR leaders.

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