Drop Your Work Face !!

As you read this you’re probably getting ready for the work week. How do you do that? I’m sure it’s probably different for everyone, but there is preparation of some sort. You get your outfit together. You look at your calendar for the next day or even the whole week. The question I have is, “Which face did you choose to put on ?”

For some reason, people choose to act one way at work and another outside of work. In fact, they may have different work faces depending on who they’re interacting with during the day. One for senior management. One for your department. Another for your peers and one more for those who are in roles lower than yours. Gets tiring doesn’t it?

Why do we feel the need to carry multiple personas? What’s so hard about being ourselves? Let me share a story . . .

Early in my career, I worked for a Fortune 100 company as a recruiter. These were the days before “business casual” existed. Our department was going to go together to a company sponsored night at the Cincinnati Reds. We had seats in the stadium and weren’t in a suite. I had never been out with my co-workers socially because I was much younger than them. So, I had never seen them in “non work” clothes. I was geeked to go to the game. I chose to wear a Reds shirt, shorts, a Reds hat and, of course, my red Chuck Taylor low top Converse shoes !!

My co-workers actually stared at me and asked me if THAT was what I was going to wear to the game. They were in casual clothes, but very nice ones. I smiled, said “Yep, trying to show team spirit !!”

Work FaceI was given the tickets for me and my friend that were separate from the rest of the group from work. You see, I didn’t have the right work face on. I didn’t know I needed one !!

I don’t work at that company any longer, and I’ve watched over the places I’ve worked since then and I keep running in to more and more work faces. This needs to change – especially for HR !!

HR folks need to be genuine all the time and with everyone. You can’t expect people to be genuine themselves unless they see it modeled for them. Doing this will make you vulnerable, transparent and emotional. In other words – human.

Trying to play a game of being different personalities for different people within an organization only hurts you and your company. Also, you need to understand that employees are yearning for someone to be “real” with them. It’s missing in companies today, and that’s a mistake.

This week stop putting on a work face and be yourself. When you see others with work faces, make it safe for them to let them take it off. You’ll be pleased with more and more folks being genuine. Once that happens, then you’ll see true performance occur !!

Get Real HR !!

As you start the work week, what’s the first thing you are thinking about?  Are you geeked up to go into the next challenge or opportunity? Or, instead, are you fretting about the inordinate amount of drama you have to wade through?  I’ll bet you’re putting on your waders right now !!

Drama in the workplace is commonplace.  In fact, some HR people ONLY exist because they thrive on it, or they feel that HR’s role is to quell the drama.  People don’t fit into nice little boxes even though we try our hardest to make that happen.  There’s a huge difference though between a person’s diversity (of thought, ideas, approach, insight) and drama !!  We need diversity.  We don’t need drama !!

Reality Based LeadershipThis was perfectly captured in Cy Wakeman’s book, Reality Based Leadership.  I know it’s been out for a few years, but some things in HR and Leadership are never “dated.”  This is one of those resources !!

Cy lends a mix of her own personal experience as a leader in the Healthcare arena with her interactions with some of her client companies.  The examples are tangible and when you read them you can almost always see yourself either involved in a similar situation, or know folks in your company who are struggling with the same things.

What seems to be obvious and simple when you read it is completely different than how most of us practice in our workplaces.  I agree with Cy in her take on how much of our daily work in HR is addressing drama.  It’s honestly tiring and unnecessary.  It was extremely refreshing to read about how this is prevalent in companies everywhere.  It was also encouraging to see a method to address the drama and . . . get real !!

Get RealIt’s amazing to me that employees ask for you to be “real” with them, but what they really mean is that they want things to be seen and addressed their way – whether that’s real or not.

When we are faced with these situations in HR, we more often than not, strive to get to a neutral standing in order to squelch any conflict.  This isn’t getting real, it’s pretending that you’re Switzerland.  In the end, you may feel that things are settled, but the turmoil that is still continuing behind your back is usually bigger than the situation was in the first place.

I really dig Cy’s approach and have been practicing much of what she outlines in her book.  Employees truly appreciate you being straightforward with them and cutting through the mists of ambiguity.  It’s doesn’t mean you have to be a bulldozer.  It means you have the chance to be genuine – which ALWAYS works !!

I’m not going to highlight the key points or chapters in the book because I think resources truly become a resource when YOU read them yourself !!  This great book will stay active with me and on my desk as a quick reference and reminder of its value.  I highly recommend that you get a copy and have one for yourself !!  I promise you that it will give you great context on how you can get real in HR and love what you do !!