Get Rid of Doubt !!

Another great week happened when I was talking with another one of my peers who was facing a tough challenge at work. She is in a senior HR role and was asked to talk to other senior managers about how roles are defined. She and I chatted and she had a solid plan and approach to have this tough conversation. It was balanced, professional and didn’t seem presumptuous which was a concern because she wanted to do well in working with this team.

As we were wrapping things up she said a telltale attribute that haunts HR pros – “I wish I didn’t doubt myself and felt more confident about this.”

Please understand that she is an incredible HR pro – one of the best I know. She wouldn’t be in her current role if that wasn’t the case. The difficultly is that HR people, in general, lack “organizational confidence.” We’ve been taught to be the caretaker who is behind the scenes. The person who makes sure that peace and stability are the norm.

There’s nothing wrong with those attributes. However, they can’t be what you lead with. Being confident in what you do is essential and is needed if you wish to have credibility with Senior Management, your department and with employees. If doubt is your lead in how you approach HR, then you won’t be seen as a resource worth engaging. In fact, people may avoid you, and HR in general, because they think you’ll be unsure of yourself.

Confidence and DoubtYou have to note that being confident doesn’t mean being arrogant. You can practice confidence with humility. The key is not only to be confident in who you are and what you do, but also to remove doubt. Doubt occurs most when you feel you are on your own. A real challenge in HR is that so many people are isolated as “departments of one” or they are not connected throughout their organization. Some of this is based on how HR is designed within a company, but some of it is by choice.

I’ve never come across another profession who feels that can’t be connected. What’s keeping you from doing this? There are a myriad of ways to be connected to each other, and it’s worth the time you invest in making this happen. I think one of the main reason’s we don’t connect is that we’re waiting for someone to make that first step and reach out. This is an obstacle that doesn’t make sense to me. In a field where we are meant to be WITH people, what would keep us from being with each other?

I have worked for years to build a network of people who are friends first, but they started out as resources. I had doubts in what I wanted to try in HR and I had to bounce my ideas off someone. Now, I have a true web of people around the globe that I can reach out to – and I make sure to do that often. I still face doubts, but have replaced it with confidence because I know that the friends I have in HR will be there to lift me up, lend an ear and are willing to question and/or disagree with me.

It’s time for you to get rid of the doubt you face as an HR professional. Reach out and connect to others. Don’t wait and keep trying to do things on your own. Don’t let doubt ever creep in again. Make connections that matter and build the confidence that others have in you !!

You can’t handle the truth !!

One of the toughest things in HR is that we are called upon to keep so many things confidential.  It’s difficult because we can’t even tell others that may think we’re “lying” when we’re actually keeping the peace.  When I was just starting my career in HR, I came face-to-face to the power of what confidentiality means.

I worked for a small entrepreneurial company and the owner felt that is was time to start his succession plan and name a new President and he would move into the role of CEO so he could focus on externally growing the Company.  He was going to rely on the new President to run the internal day-to-day operations.  He had an engineering background, so to him everything was pretty black and white.  Not a lot of gray.

I hadn’t worked with him much, but now I was put into a position of working with this new executive every day. One of the first things, let’s call him Barry, did was dive into salaries.  He hadn’t had access to what others made in the organization, but it was the first thing he asked for from HR. Imagine that !!  I had a gut feeling that this wasn’t going to go well.

At his first management meeting, he thought he’d “set the stage” for his reign by saying, “I’d like to go off the agenda.”

We worked in an open office with no walls from the 1st to 3rd floor, so everyone who worked in the office could hear everything – literally.  Barry states, “I’ve been reviewing the salaries and I think Steve makes too much as our HR Manager.”

You can guess what my face looked like.  And, you can also guess that I was having “fond” feelings about this change !! Everyone was silent. No one knew how to react.

Just then, the CEO said, “Really?  Steve, how much do you make?” (Remember EVERYONE can hear what we said at these meetings and you could hear crickets chirping waiting for my response.)

“Uh, do I have to say?” I said. The CEO said, “If you want to keep your job, tell everyone your salary.”

I gulped and said, ” I make $46,000 per year.”  No reaction from the managers. You see I made the least. “So, how much does our Plant Manager make?” (he’s at the table too !!) “He makes $55,000 per year.” The plant manager, my best friend, gave me the look of death.  The CEO went around the table and made me state every manager’s salary.  When it came to the President, the CEO said, “And Barry? How much does he make now that I’ve promoted him?”

I couldn’t believe I had to do this. I looked down at the table and said, “Barry makes $110,000 per year.” I could feel the daggers coming at me from Barry. “Steve, what about me? What do I make?,” said the CEO. I felt as if I was going to throw up in front of everyone.  You see, Barry didn’t know how much the CEO made. I said, “You make $185,000 per year.”  Barry turned ashen. He wasn’t as close to the top as he thought.

The CEO said, “You see, that’s why Steve’s in HR and you’re not Barry. He can handle confidential information. Now either grow up, or step down. Salaries are just numbers and now that we have the air cleared, can we get back to the agenda?”

I respected the CEO even more and any credibility Barry thought he had by wielding power had evaporated.

What we do in HR is tough.  Hang in there because we can handle the truth !!