It doesn’t surprise me that the media’s focus on the new Miss USA is almost entirely on her stumble on stage; although, there is lots on her swimsuit too. We like to point out misfortune; it makes us feel better about our pitiful little lives. I’m not necessarily defending the whole idea of beauty pageants, but from what I understand contestants dedicate years and years of excruciating work to them (this knowledge based primarily on an in-flight viewing of Miss Congeniality). It takes more than just being able to walk across stage in an evening gown with poise. But alas, it is what most of us will remember about Rima Fakih. Never mind, for instance that she is the first Muslim Miss USA. I just love that…in your face, Islamic Radicals! Anyway, watching this unfold (I’ve been riveted to the screen) led me to think about a similar plight the HR department experiences. It doesn’t matter how much the department does well for employees day-in-and-day out. What most remember (or choose to recall) is the last time the HR department messed up. It is simply inescapable. I’ve had responsibility for payroll in several large companies. It doesn’t matter how many hundreds of thousands of accurate transactions that department processed; the minute someone noticed an error in their paycheck, we had senior leaders calling me to complain. What a stupid waste of time…and how inconsiderate. The problem is that most people will never really appreciate what HR does for them because they just don’t have a clue. So I would recommend – when you can find some time to break from building the employer brand – to think hard about your HR department’s brand. What can you do to promote it? Is there an opportunity to celebrate (or at least publicize) your successes from time to time? Regularly highlight progress. Do a road show and share more around how your department is structured and what your operational focus is. Find champions in the organization who are willing to promote your cause…like actively promote it. But don’t just expect to walk across the stage with poise and have people notice you for everything that you are to the organization. Miss HR, after all, is a title not easily won.
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