I love being in HR. For me, it is the sweetest spot in an organization. Okay, sometimes I am a tiny bit cynical about all we encounter on a daily basis, but still, I wouldn’t want to be in any other profession. Every day you work with people: the most intriguing, the most varied, the most flexible and the most important resources an organization has.
You might say: I don’t feel like the most valued resource when I talk to my HR person. I realize many people have mixed experiences with HR. But I’d like you to think of HR as the person(s) in the best position to help you move on in your career. Yes, also when you didn’t get that promotion, or that training you desired.
A good HR person broadens your view of the world. For example when you feel misunderstood, by your boss, or by headquarters, or by your subordinates. HR can share with you a holistic view of how other people see you. There’s an enormous value in hearing that kind of feedback. Don’t be afraid of it, don’t see it as criticism. Often your HR person is the messenger, who summarizes the broad base of information she has access to. By clarifying how others perceive you, you can see the causality of your intentions, your behavior, and the effect it ultimately has on your surroundings. This can help you improve, and achieve the impact you want to have on others.
A good HR person feels the responsibility for co-creating the foundation of a good environment for all employees. They hope to see someone developing greatly after finding them a suitable training. Or to witness a troublesome team turning into a tightknit focused team after a good intervention.
If you happen to be in the position to be able to choose an HR person, you want someone who helps you with all HR issues that come up. That involves a lot of routine tasks, for which knowledge and experience is important. But to choose the right person, that’s not enough. In fact, there is just one thing you really need to know. What is their motivation? You know you have the right person when you see they are genuinely interested in people, and feel rewarded in seeing other people develop.
Some choose HR for other reasons: they thought it would get them the quickest career; their girlfriend, brother or parent was in HR as well and it seemed an okay job; or they tried other areas of business for a while and now want an “easy” job. I’ve heard all of these for real. Usually from HR people that weren’t successful, and that had very little credit in their organization. This group isn’t genuinely interested in people. They won’t deliver the same results as the people who see HR as a calling.
So next time you recruit for HR, make sure you find out whether they are really interested in people. If not, they won’t give you the added value that HR can be.