Blaming HR is the universal way for companies to change the subject when its leaders are too weak to address their more systemic issues. HR Sucks? No, you suck. Your organization might not have the best HR department but that’s your fault, not theirs. If they can’t add value in the way you need them to, then fire the whole damn lot and start from scratch. It really is that easy.
After spending a couple of days at the SHRM Annual Conference and Expo last week, I can tell you with a great deal of certainty that the HR profession is alive and kickin’. As you well know, I’ve been a strong proponent of Trench HR since I took on the HR Fishbowl moniker a couple of years ago. I’m thrilled the voice is getting louder – that we’re hearing more and more from amazing HR professionals who are actually on the ground bringing the best of talent management practices to their employees every day. HR does not suck.
I was really happy that I got to spend some time with Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources for Career Builder. Big company, big brand, big challenges…big job. She gets it. She understands the difference between being valuable to the organization and being relevant to its employees. She believes HR can be – and often is – over-engineered. She recognizes that HR functional knowledge can be taught while some of the more important HR competencies can’t. She knows HR is sometimes more about ‘selling’ than it is about anything else. And she realizes that one of the best ways for HR to endear itself to the organization is to be masters of change: acting with agility and being comfortable with ambiguity. I love it when I’m across the table from a peer who brings comfort to the notion that HR is in fact evolving as a profession. Rosemary said a lot of things I nodded my head to. But she touched on one-thing that particularly caught my ear. Her HR team has a litmus test that they apply to pretty much everything they do – whether it’s tactical, administrative, strategic, programmatic, or basic human interaction. They ask themselves whether they are “Appropriately Frustrated.”
If you aren’t frustrated in what you’re doing for your company and its people, maybe you’re not pushing yourself enough; maybe you haven’t uncovered all there is to uncover; maybe you’re not contributing your perspective to the conversation; maybe you’re not challenging your constituents to think differently; maybe you aren’t tackling an issue head-on; maybe you’ve grown complacent. Yeah, HR is frustrating. There are no rules or recipes for success; we have to figure them out as we go along; we have to modify our response to meet the very unique circumstances of the matter at hand; we have to stop and start and redirect; we have to get people “on-board”; we have to sell and sell and sell. And all of that is frustrating. But that’s what makes it interesting and challenging and exciting. It’s that appropriate level of frustration that forces us to grow and develop. It’s what pushes us to bring something better to the party next time – to develop better solutions and responses.
So go ask your team, “are you appropriately frustrated?” Then ask yourself the same. Get (appropriately) frustrated, yo.