If you’re in, be in

If you’re in, be in 150 150 Jason Lauritsen

I recently read a blog post by a blogger who is an HR professional by day.  In the post, she said something to the effect: “I have a love/hate relationship with HR.”  This struck me the wrong way.  In fact, the more I thought about it, the more it chapped my . . . well, you know.

You see, I used to say silly things like this when I was new to HR.  I didn’t respect HR early in my career.  I was a hardcore headhunter prior to coming into HR and part of my training had been that all HR people were either worthless or washed up–they were failures.  In the headhunting world, HR is nothing but an obstacle between you and a commission check (hey, that’s how I was trained).  So, when I made the jump to HR, I had a little identity crisis to work through.  I had an love/hate relationship with HR at the beginning because I wasn’t bought in yet.  My expectations were way out of whack with the reality of HR.

But now it’s different.  When you work in HR, you are HR.  If you have a love/hate relationship with HR, you have a love/hate relationship with yourself.  You have an identity crisis and a self-esteem problem.  Imagine how you’d feel if your child’s teacher said that he had a love/hate relationship with education.  How in the world is your organization supposed to respect you if you aren’t even sure if you respect yourself.  Aaarrrggghh!  Stop it, stop it, stop it, stop it!  

There’s a saying that you have probably heard many times.  From the first time I heard it, it has rung in my ears:

If you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem.  

Not only did the words, “I have a love/hate relationship with HR” come from a practicing HR professional, but from one who blogs to the world professing to help others be better at HR.  While I’m sure that this particular blogger would argue that she’s helping HR move forward, but I think that this type of mindset is part of our problem.

If you are in HR, be HR.  Love the work.  Love the profession.  Love the people.  Yes, we are flawed.  Yes, we have a lot to improve.  But, so does every other discipline.  Instead of trying to distance yourself from HR, start being the solution.  Model the way HR should be.  Have a vision for the future of HR and share it with others. Hold yourself, your team and your peers to incredible high standards.  Mentor, teach, lead, grow.  That’s what we need in HR.

I am HR.  So are you.  Start acting like it.

  • TheHRD

    Jason, I'm not the blogger in question but I have certainly expressed similar frustrations with the profession. Part of the problem here is that too many people do love HR, but the wrong sort of HR.

    I think what you are maybe referring to is the lack of self confidence that we display in the profession and I totally concur with that. But there is a difference between beating ourselves up (which is wrong) and expressing a love hate relationship with the profession.

    A healthy scepticism is never an issue in my opinion, but we should use it, as you say, to drive higher standards and never settle for second best. That is the passion for continuous improvement which starts with being open and honest about our flaws.

  • Trish McFarlane

    Jason, I think you're on the money with this idea. I am someone who loves HR. I really live it and when I think of HR pros I admire in my career, they live it too. You have to be someone who can embrace being the "lone island" in the organization at times, you have to be someone who can take the heat when you're constantly on the outside looking in (at a department for example). Great post!

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