Let’s Be Fair to HR Types-They’re Not All Bad
Last week we talked about the bane of our job seeking existence, the HR Gatekeepers. I felt compelled, in all fairness, to speak to the good that HR reps do. If there is nothing more important during this difficult process, it is to keep an equal balance, both in perspective and outlook.
We tend, as prospective job seekers, employees and even employers, to view HR reps as all knowing, and yet functionally invisible. Ironically, they are human too. As such, they bring with them a plethora of flaws, personal perceptions, past misgivings and failures. Some of them may not have even learned from their mistakes. However, we fail to recognize and acknowledge, that they are and can be as imperfect as us (uh oh!). Therefore, we are partially to blame for putting them on a pedestal and holding them to a higher standard. That alone sets them up for failure, assuming they do not meet our expectations and standards.
I am going to share one special exception. She is a diamond in the rough, a gleaming gem with all the beauty and specialness she brought to her role as HR director, who I met during a job interview. To say she had spunk is putting it mildly. I say this because she had the difficult role of hiring for a position that was “hard to fill”. More importantly, it was a position that, historically, was hard to maintain filled.
My admiration is based upon the fact that as a lawyer and HR professional, I understood the nuance between disclosure and risk. She was walking a fine line, while having to divulge information by way of explanation of the “difficult boss”. Further, she had to separate what was personal and what was business. By this I mean, how do you send a lamb you like to what is arguably a lion’s den and still maintain a semblance of integrity. Yet, she did.
During every phase of the process, she was as candid as law and firm commitment allowed. Notwithstanding the outcome of the interview and the job, I can say with professional pride and personal admiration, she found the appropriate balance. How many of us can say that of an HR rep?
As mentor and advisor, in both my professional career and while at the firm, I have found none better. She understood the roles everyone performed and what was required to fulfill certain responsibilities. She became my role model as I continue to venture into my HR roles and face precarious obstacles. She taught me how vital it is to understand the needs of the business, the goals of the firm, and finding those right “fits” into the various roles to make the firm hum. She reminded me, that you are the first line of impression, the center while training and onboarding an employee, and ultimately, the last one who executes the final decision of the executive board, be it hire, promotion, resignation and termination of its member staff. The biggest lesson was to do so without bias, personal opinion and self-interested motivation. So few can achieve it, and even I have struggled with this (ok, so I’m not perfect, at least not yet!).
She brought humor to activities without making it a farce. She provided levity when projects or managers brought you down but never lost sight of the importance of performance. She was realistic with the ways of management. Without ever denigrating what it is they did or stood for, she never compromised professionalism, respect and true commitment on behalf of her employees. As an individual who, when you said, “this is in confidence”, you knew the minute you left her office, the subject and discussion were exactly that, confidential. Where she saw a need for remedy or improvement, she sought out the solution for all parties concerned. To be able to say that you never felt betrayed by her, was a feat very few HR reps can claim. She did so repeatedly.
She is and always will be a class act, but it does not do her justice. She needs to know that we acknowledge, appreciate and value her, and always will, long after she lays her hat down and calls it a day. Until then, I can only hope and pray that there are more like her in my professional path, as I seek that next role. She’s my idol!