Dig In !!

Entering December, the last place I thought I’d be was out in my yard doing one last round of yard work, but that’s where I was this Sunday !! I spent over 3 1/2 hours cutting down dead items from our many flower beds, picking up sticks from countless trees and mowing leaves. We have one magnificent maple that never lets it’s leaves drop until at least Thanksgiving. Yesterday we had over an 1 1/2 inches of rain, so yard work was a bit sloppy.

At the end of this session of toiling through my clean-up, I was spent. I knew I would be. I’m not complaining in the least. It’s a great feeling to put all of your effort into your work and then collapse. I stumbled into a boiling shower and watched the brown water seep slowly down the drain. I slipped into some tie-dye (of course), jeans and took four Motrin for the impending achefest that was sure to come in the next few hours. I eased down the staircase and plopped on the couch, pulled out my laptop and started this post.

Do you lose yourself in your thoughts whenever you have an extended time alone? I absolutely do !! This most recent undertaking allowed my mind to wander and contemplate how getting your hands dirty relates to HR.

I admire people who have an occupation using their hands to accomplish their role. I truly do and always have. Being in HR, I tend to be in an office setting more often than not. Now, I understand that an office job is still work. This isn’t comparing one versus another.

However, most HR people I know practice at arm’s length. We don’t like jumping in and getting dirty. We’d rather pull out some handbook or manual and slowly flip through each page in order to apply some policy to situations we face. We have the misunderstanding that the written word can solve any interaction we have with employees. It just isn’t true.

You see, people are messy AND wonderful !! That is an inevitable fact of being human. So, instead of practicing HR from a visible distance, why don’t you dig in? I think it’s needed because no situation is crystal clear. Not one. You’re missing out by sitting back and trying to “interact” with people from a desk or a manual.

Even though the idea of spending hours in my yard meant sure exhaustion. The result of a clean yard and manicured landscaping was worth the time and effort. The same can be said by being intentional and digging in every time you have the opportunity to work with employees. Your time and effort may be taxing and leave you tired at the end of each day. But, isn’t that amazing ??

Whenever I hear my peers yearn for value and validation because of their work in HR, I want to remind them that what they’re looking for is always right in front of them. This week reach out with your hands and dig in !!

8 thoughts on “Dig In !!”

  1. Great point Steve. Everything is better when we leave the bleachers and get on the field to be involved. (Except as overly protective parents. 🙂

  2. I’ve been very fortunate to work for employers who understand that I won’t just dive in as their HR Manager until I’ve been able to work on the floor side by side with the people who are going to need me the most in the future. Validation is not found in our polices or the “work” we do, validation comes in understanding and supporting those who do the work so that when they need HR, they know and trust that they have someone who has stood next to them for the day to day struggles. Your message is great and I thank you for writing it.

  3. 100% – I’m in our Denver plants weekly and our Iowa plant monthly. It matters. NO technology can replace facetime, nor can you fully understand staff’s work, wins, and frustrations unless you really see them. Work the same shift as your primary workforce occasionally. Then you know at least a portion of the full story.

  4. View your office as a prison. Knowing, understanding and acting on your employees interests isn’t something that can be handled entirely from your office or cube. Get out where your people are. You’ll be a better HR person because of it, and you’ll gain some instant credibility with employees for meeting them where they are – not at your desk.

  5. My wife, a former kindergarten teacher, used to tell the kids who were reluctant, “You can’t have fun if you don’t get dirty.” You’re right, Steve, getting dirty is where the fun , and work, is. Thanks for writing and sharing the article.

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