8 questions to make you better at HR

Many words are powerful, but if we are not careful we can miss the extent of the power of our words. If you have kids then you know that after your kid learned the word “no” you would give anything for them to stop using it. Pick up your toys. No. Go potty. No. Eat your dinner. No. Is your name no? No. A two letter word that can drive a parent crazy, am i right? It’s also a two letter word that can drive our leaders  at work crazy. It’s a disappointingly common mistake in HR.

Manager: Hey, can we change..

HR: No.

Manager: Can I…

HR: No.

Manager: What if we…

HR: No.

No shouldn’t be our go-to for a response. No shouldn’t even be on the horizon. When a manager comes in with a problem and a suggestion or solution we shouldn’t immediately fire back a “no” and hide behind some compliance effort. When we do that, especially when we consistently do that, we lose the trust and respect of the leaders in our organization. We become their last stop when they need something. We become the group they call to clean up a mess instead of the group they call to help them think through the process of executing a great plan from the beginning. What about when you were growing up and how you identified which parent was going to say no to something specific and which one wouldn’t- who did you ask? You obviously asked the one who wouldn’t say no (unless you were a Hutto kid, then you definitely knew better than to try that).

When we constantly say no we are viewed as something less than a business partner and something more like a hall monitor on a power trip. I don’t mean when we say “No, HR cannot plan that social event” I mean when we say “No, HR cannot change that policy” or “No, HR cannot support that benefit chandept of noge” or “No, HR cannot help you fire that person” or just “No, we cannot do it that way.” When we constantly use the response “No” we are underestimating the power that it has on how our employees and leaders view us.

 

Think back to the last job you had that wasn’t HR. Did you have something that you viewed as an unnecessary hurdle in executing your position? Was corporate or HR to blame for that hurdle? Did you have a manager that you wished was better at managing people? What if that manager had gone to HR for some guidance and was left with a response of “no.” Does that knowledge change how you view that person? Does the fact that HR didn’t support your leadership make you more angry at the manager or at HR? Did you have questions about benefits that you didn’t understand? Did you have an HR team that was annoyed by your questions about your benefits? Do you feel like you were recruited by a recruiter who was knowledgeable about the company or someone that just told you what they needed to tell you to get you to accept a position with them? Did you have problems with HR before you were HR?

Everyday that we are faced with problems to solve we should stop and ask ourselves simple questions, such as:

  1. If I were the employee, how I would I feel about this?
  2. or If I were the manager, what kind of support would I expect?
  3. How would this keep me from doing my job well if I were in their shoes?
  4. How could I explain/train on this topic in a way that helped employees understand this better?
  5. How does this impact our organizations business?
  6. Is there a solid business reason for doing it this way?
  7. Is this helpful to our goal or harmful to it?
  8. If I were coming to HR for help/insight/etc. would I be happy with the solution I’m about to provide?

This shouldn’t be confused with people pleasing, because that’s just as dangerous as always saying no. What it should do is make you think about how you are behaving in a way that may have a negative impact on your department’s image and what you can do to fix that. When you do use the answer no, can you defend it with a business reason that makes sense?

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Dear Manager

A few things to remind you about the manager you set out to be, you know for when you have your next gig as a manager. What better way to hold yourself accountable than to put it online for the world to see. So here goes:

letter writing

Dear Manager,

Remember the type of manager you wanted to be. Much like the type of manager you wanted to work for. Remember that. Are you that manager now?

Believe in your people. When you no longer believe in your people, have that tough conversation with them…fix it. Do you believe in your team right now?

Fight for your people. No need to fight for your people, if you don’t believe in your people-see previous item. Fight for them to have the resources they need. Fight for their needs. Fight for their interests. Will you fight for your team today if you need to?

Stick up for your people. Stick up for your people. Stick up for your people.  Don’t let anyone belittle your profession and do not let anyone belittle your people. If you aren’t comfortable sticking up for your people we need to revisit the belief you have in your people. Will you stick up for your team today?

Remember what it was like to be in the trenches and use it for something. Don’t use it for horror stories and telling your team to suck it up and press on. Don’t use it to tell your team that it could be worse, it was worse. Use it to think of new ways your people can get their work done more efficiently. Use it to help your team think creatively to solve problems. Use it as a reminder to not take your people in the trenches for granted. Use it to keep yourself from getting frustrated with your people in the trenches. Some days were tough. Use it for improvement. Do you remember what it was like?

Don’t use the phrase “that’s just how we do that here,” or “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” Don’t discourage your team from thinking creatively and/or understanding processes. You cannot undo that. Are you discouraging people?

Don’t set your people up for failure. You can prevent that.

Grow your people. Grow your people in whatever way they are willing to grow.

Forgive your people when they make a mistake.

Listen. Listen to what their needs are, what their wants are, what their goals are. How can you help them today?

Finally, keep adding to this. You can’t have too many reminders to bring you back to what it was like. Don’t just say you don’t want to be a certain way when you’re manager, act on it. Hold yourself accountable and do what’s right.

Sincerely,

The younger you that knew she needed a break from being a manager. It can be tough on both sides of the table. 

HR ain’t cool…

I recently had a chat with my baby brother about the company that I currently work for. I was telling him about all the cool stuff that happens where I work now: some of the projects we’ve worked on in the past and some of the areas that we are working in now.. He’s getting excited, my baby sister is sitting there looking at us like we are both idiots because she had heard of almost nothing I mentioned… the one thing she did know she blurted out “that sounds like Call of Duty!”.. it was a brief moment, but I was kind of proud LOL. So my brother is stoked about all this cool stuff and he looks at me plain as day and says “What kind of cool stuff do you get to do there?”…. [crickets]… I have to blink a couple of times and give him a “say whaaaaaat” because I’m assuming he knows what I do for a living… I mean I only talk about it ALL the time (Hey- baby brother, don’t you read my blog? sheesh!). When I realize he is serious and wants an answer I give it to him “I get to find the people we hire to work on all these cool projects”. BOOM! [crickets] He just doesn’t get it. So I try again… “I solve problems that are different from the problems our engineers solve…” NAILED IT! Psyche.. still doesn’t care.. he’s only interested in the cool tech-y engineering type stuff. Hmm. You may be an engineer if…?

Anyway! Isn’t this part of our problem? We can’t express our value? We can’t convince non HR folks why we rock. 😦 Well it is for some of us. And that’s okay, because for those of “us” that it is a problem for, I have faith in you. You can turn it around. You can step up and find awesome people and help grow the awesome people you already have and do some really legit team building and coaching and activities and so on and so forth and be the best HR department you can be! But no one is going to do it for you, so get up off your tush and go do it. And if you don’t want to get up off your tush and go do it I’m going to have to ask you kindly to leave the HR profession; we don’t need anyone bringing us down and we don’t want anyone giving the profession a bad name.. kthanks! 🙂 #muchlove

Let Dwight lay some knowledge on ya...