I attended a HR luncheon not too long ago. I arrived early and found no one there I knew. Instead of going into introvert mode, I decided to sit down at a table, join the conversation and try to make some new connections. Here’s what I walked in on …
“It’s been over a year of the same thing now. I keep telling them what they need to do to make things better around here. They don’t want to listen to me. I don’t feel like they value my input at all.”
“I totally understand what you mean. It’s the same at my job. I’m not even invited to their meetings anymore. They can’t handle the truth about what needs to happen to fix the mess they’ve made.”
I just sat there, feeling out of place and uncomfortable and praying they wouldn’t ask me to join the conversation.
They didn’t. And they didn’t introduce themselves either. They just kept talking about how horrible it was their companies wouldn’t give HR the attention and opportunity it deserved.
One might say they sounded really … thirsty!!
Yep. I’m using urban slang to describe a HR phenomenon. Again …Don’t judge. Keep reading.
The urban dictionary defines thirsty as “eager to get attention; to crave spotlight; desperate to be chosen”
Sound familiar? It should … In many organizations, HR feels unheard, undervalued and marginalized in their role. Like the people at that luncheon table, lots of HR professionals go to work every day seeking the attention of senior management, the spotlight of business and are desperate to be chosen to lead organizational change.
I’m not going to go into the reasons why HR should be involved in the strategic planning of business. It is well documented that organizations who utilize HR in a strategic capacity are more financially successful and maintain a more positive reputation and healthier working environment than those who marginalize HR to traditional, administrative functions.
What I am going to go into is what HR should stop doing that makes them look thirsty.
- Stop openly criticizing the decision-makers … Just because you aren’t part of the discussions doesn’t mean you get to nit-pick all the ideas and efforts. Give the benefit of the doubt, even if the analysis missed some stuff. Besides, it only leads to you being more left out of the team.
- Stop threatening litigation … Telling the organization not to do something that’s good for progress because there’s an off-chance they might get sued is not helpful. Mitigating and defending the company’s decisions is part of your job — so do it! Besides, it only makes it look like you’re afraid to fight.
- Stop saying people are going to be unhappy and quit … Turnover is necessary and not always a bad thing. There’s a huge difference between normal and the truly negative trends. Make sure you know and speak about the difference. Besides, it only makes it look like you’re the one who is unhappy.
Instead, try doing more of the stuff like this:
Start showing enthusiasm for proposed changes. Be excited for the opportunity that a new project brings and seek partnerships across functions and departments to make it successful.
Start proposing the changes you want to see. Not suggesting or guilting or badgering — but legitimately proposing. Provide full, comprehensive analysis and recommendations for the improvements you believe in.
HR must open its mouth to say something other than “no” and “that won’t work’. We must talk about what’s possible and how we are going to get it done.
Because, while HR is often waiting on the organization to listen, the organization is waiting on HR to talk … Holla back!