Changing with Faith — HR Lessons from The Preacher’s Wife

The Preacher’s Wife” is set New York City during what should be the happiest season of all…Christmastime.  It is the story of St. Matthew’s Baptist Church, it’s pastor, the pastor’s wife, and an angel who has come to help the church out of an impending crisis.  Financial problems, declining membership, and a disengaged pastor are the main reasons that St. Matthew’s is in desperate need of change.

In any change process, there are a number of stakeholders who are affected.

Rev. Biggs: The recently appointed Pastor has the legacy of the beloved, deceased Pastor with which to contend. He shows no leadership commitment to the change process, lets the past be a hindrance, and is rapidly losing faith.

Dudley: An angel who comes to help the Pastor and ultimately the church population through the change process. In an organization, he would be an outside consultant who can offer guidance and impartial feedback and solutions because he is not emotionally connected.

Julia Biggs: She is the preacher’s wife and most energized change agent. In terms of an organization, I see her as the HR Leader. Julia takes on the task of working with the consultant and inadvertently assumes the responsibility of leading the organization through the change process. She knows that her commitment is first and foremost to the organization, but finds herself in a difficult situation when the leader will not step up to the plate.

Jeremiah Biggs:  The son of Henry and Julia. He develops a relationship with Dudley and has no choice but to trust in his vision because his father is absent. He represents the employees who are open to change because they believe anything is better than the current state.

Joe Hamilton: A Real Estate developer who appears to be the answer to the church’s financial problems. He offers to buy the church but intends to tear it down to build condominiums.  In exchange, he will build a new church in a remote location. This proposition is detrimental because, among other things, it is not a cultural fit for the organization.

Margeritte Coleman:  Rev. Biggs mother-in-law and the former First Lady.  She represents the employees who are most resistant to change simply because they are married to the past.  They reject anything that threatens the way things used to be

Beverly: Rev. Biggs skeptical assistant. She represents the employees who are resistant to change because they don’t know how they will fit into the organization once the process is complete.

As the Leader of the organization, Rev. Biggs is ultimately responsible for guiding and managing the change process.  Unfortunately, he finds himself in a situation where he is lacking FAITH.

Future State: A leader should be able to clearly articulate his/her vision for the organization once the change process is complete.

Alleviate Fear: Communicate early and often, provide answers to tough questions, and dispel rumors.

Implementation Plan: An effective change process requires a detailed plan that outlines the course of action, strategy, schedule, cost, and anticipates roadblocks and how to overcome them.

Timing: Allot for time to achieve set milestones.

Healthy and happy environment: The desired end result.

Knowing that change is constant, I’ve never understood how or why many organizations manage it so poorly.  Like Rev. Biggs, perhaps the principals in the organization are not properly influencing and leading the change process. Maybe there is more focus and energy spent emphasizing the barriers to the proposed change. Or, there could be a Joe Hamilton, an external force, who tries to exploit the diminished integrity of the process for his own benefit.  In any and all instances when the change process is compromised, activate your F.A.I.T.H, to get back on track.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)


This post was written by Keirsten Greggs. Keirsten is an experienced Human Resources professional who has built a successful career implementing creative talent acquisitions strategies for several Fortune 500 firms. For the past 14 years, she has provided recruiting support for Defense, Intelligence, Federal and Civilian contract portfolios. She has performed in various functions to include Executive hiring, Proposal/Incumbent Capture support, Project Management, and TA Operations. Keirsten’s engagement and strength in TA has aided companies in achieving the highest level of talent acquisition excellence and she continues to thrive as a leader in her field.

A native of NJ, Keirsten has called the Washington DC Metro area home for 15 years. She obtained a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Richmond and a Masters in Management with an HR concentration from the University of Maryland, University College. When not solving copious amounts of #recruiterproblems, she indulges in various hobbies including reading, jigsaw and logic puzzle proficiency, and anything that she can incorporate with a nice glass of wine and a good meal.

Connect with Keirsten and view her Weekly Recruiter Problems Memes on Twitter @K_Alea and LinkedIn.


What is HR Thirsty For?

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!


What HR Is To Me … Now

Each year, on the Anniversary of the launch of my The Buzz on HR, I look back at my very first post and reflect on how my views on the profession have changed.

This is my very first post ever.

Here’s the post for my 1st bloggiversary.

Here’s the post for my 2nd bloggiversary.

Sadly, I missed my 3rd bloggiversary because I was in a bad head space and y’all really didn’t want to know what I was thinking then. It was nothing nice!

Instead, I’m going to take this day to reflect. Because it is my actual birthday — and there’s no better time to think about where you’ve been and where you’re going than on the day you’re born.

So here goes … What HR is to Me – the 2014 Edition

I still believe the function of Human Resources is to balance the rights of the employee with the needs of the employer in order to ensure the protection and productivity of the employer. As hard as many have tried to tell me otherwise, I just don’t think that will ever change for me. The reason any job exists is first and foremost to enthusiastically excel the goals of the company. If you can’t deal with that, find a way to become self-employed. You’ll be much happier — and so will your boss.

I still believe in sharing knowledge, caring about our companies and the people in them, actively practicing, proper timing in our planning as well as professional development/networking. These are crucial things for any professional who wants to stay positive and progressive in their career. Nothing and no one benefits when you don’t put forth effort to get better and help others.

Now I’m ready to add these items to the list:

  • Metrics … It still baffles me to see HR professionals fighting against providing detailed reports and data to back up their recommendations and requests surrounding trends and department needs. It befuddles me when we get shocked and disappointed when we don’t get the approvals and support because of this. It’s past time for HR to show and prove our stuff through tangible, irrefutable data.
  • Money … This one is two-fold. First, HR needs to pay attention to how much money is being spent. The initiatives and projects we propose, create and maintain cost thousands and thousands of dollars. We should know these costs and whether this is a good or poor investment of resources. We should be as involved and enthusiastic about budget decisions as any other in our function… Second, HR needs to look out for compensation. Both the people in the organization — as well as their own. Far too often, HR fails to fight to the battle for fair, appropriate wages across the board. Money talks; HR needs to holla back!
  • Mindfulness … HR has a responsibility to speak up and out when appropriate. We must be direct and candid. We should be guard our reputation and impressions we make without losing our authenticity. We should not hide our criticism and disappointment in sarcasm. We should share our truth while still being considerate of others, the environment and the situation. The day of the uptight, handbook toting, policy quoting, condescending, aloof HR person is dead. Rest in peace.

As I start a new journey, I am excited to put these things into practice and see success. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. I will learn, I will grow and I’ll be better because of it. And I will share the wisdom nuggets every step of the way.

Who’s The Boss?

We’ve had quite a bit of snow in NC this winter. Schools have been closed for several days and I’ve brought my kids with me to the office. I’m fortunate to work places that allow me that leeway and flexibility. I don’t take it for granted at all.

A couple years ago, I brought my daughter to the office when she was sick and I wrote this post on her observations (Spoiler alert — she thought it was boring; but her reasons will surprise you!) … I was anxious to hear what she would say about my new office and co-workers after spending time there for almost a full day.

She didn’t think my new office was boring. However, she had some interesting thoughts on my boss. When I asked her what she thought about my boss, she said “Ms. Kay? I like her. She’s nice.”

Ms. Kay is not my boss. She is the HR intern. “Why do you think she’s the boss?”

“She came in late and she left early. She has the biggest room out of everybody. And she gets to come into your office to make you sign stuff. She’s the boss.”

Let’s break this down …

Coming in late and leaving early. The intern is a student so she works only a few hours, a few days a week … However, even at her age, my daughter knows “the boss” doesn’t always work as hard or long as those in support roles. This is kinda true. Lots of bosses think they’ve paid their dues and being in charge is permission to slack off. It isn’t. Good bosses are usually the first in and the last out.

Biggest office. The intern has a desk and work area in the file room … However, my daughter knows “the boss” gets the biggest room. This is usually true — but the space should not be wasted. It should be an inviting space that encourages camaraderie, creativity and candor. Good bosses make their office an oasis and a haven.

Make people do stuff. The intern brings me documents to sign for approval to process and/or pay. She comes in, nicely asks me to sign-off and I usually comply … However, my daughter knows “the boss” tells people what to do –and they do it! And if they don’t do it, there is trouble. This is also kinda true — but bullying and threatening people to get compliance will not lead to long term success. Authority and power should be used to develop and motivate the people in your influence. Good bosses build people up to make the work environment better and faster.

Being the boss is about being willing to guide, help and serve the people you work with and work for — no matter the size of your office or staff or organization.

My real boss was the person who helped my daughter get potato chips out of the snack cabinet when she couldn’t reach the top shelf.

© 2018 The Buzz on HR

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑