At a recent HR Roundtable I facilitate, an attendee gave the answer that “HR isn’t in the trenches to keep up the ‘Mystique of HR’ !!” I doubled over in laughter and so did the room. However, then he gave some background to his answer. He said, “HR keeps people guessing as to what they do, and why they do it, so employees are never clear about what HR does.” The room then fell silent.
It fell silent, because the context he gave around his answer truly hit home with those at the Roundtable and with me personally. How can I work in a profession where people think that some mystical being is behind some magical field of smoke and illusion in order to practice the art of Human Resources?
Unfortunately, the sentiment echoed at the Roundtable has truth to it. We have allowed HR to be someplace people “go to.” It’s a destination with some unknown consequence just waiting to be unleashed on people for coming to visit. (cue dark, scary music)
Can you even think of another industry that allows “ambiguity” to be it’s brand ?? I can’t.
The only way this moniker and conception of the whirling mists dissipate is for us to be forthright in who we are and what we do. We can’t want people to see our value, we have to BRING IT !! If people in your organization don’t know what HR is, or what they offer to the business, then it’s up to YOU to change that. This isn’t Senior Managment’s job and you can’t wait for it to be written into the Strategic Plan. You have to model clarity and consistency in how you drive HR throughout the organization.
This isn’t a pipe dream – it’s an expectation. We can’t continue to think that HR will one day in the distant future get recognized for the invaluable contributions it tirelessly, and selflessly brings each day to the workplace. (cue the Heavenly AAAAAHHHHS here)
I love the field I’m in and I work to make it an integral part of my company and encourage others in HR to do the same. I think we need to take our cue from the sage philosopher Bruce Hornsby in his classic “The Way It Is.” The chorus goes:
“That’s just the way it is. That’s just the way it is. Ahh, but don’t you believe them !!”
We can, and must, eliminate the mystique of HR. We can’t continue to let people guess what we do. I’m in . . . are you ??