A Decade In #HR: I Have No Impact

I was updating my LI profile the other night and realized that I have been in HR for over TEN years.  A decade in a profession that can be incredibly rewarding, frustrating and sometimes soul-crushing all in the same day.

Over the last decade, I’ve learned some important lessons from observation and personal experience.  That’s what this series will be about. This series will not be about crazy HR stories or bad HR people, it’s about my observations and moving the field forward. I hope this series is enlightening, funny and maybe you learn something.

You can read lesson one here.

Lesson 2- Where I discuss our underestimated ability to impact our organizations.

Many people started their career in HR in an area like payroll; Stuck in the bowels of the organization, you may go weeks without seeing anyone who is actually affected by your work. Given the volume and data, it’s hard to see a paycheck as anything but another number with no face or name attached to it.

Even in the “bowels” of a large organization, great HR professionals quickly recognize their impact to the organization. Others, unfortunately, don’t care or don’t realize they should care. Instead of telling a negative story, let’s examine some examples of positive impact to the organization:

  • HR can set a professional tone in the organization by keeping our own house clean.  If we expect people to be accountable and act professional, we hold our own direct reports and teammates to the same standards.
  • Before we implement a policy, we think about the impact to employees at all levels of the organization. Think that people really only “need” 3 sick days? Walk a mile in your employee’s shoes.
  • Believe that every interaction is an opportunity and act on that belief. I know that can be tough to live every day but start small and remember that each employee we interact with is our customer.

Too often, HR professionals get bogged down in the shadows and we forget how much we can impact the organization.

You can impact your company regardless if you work at a small ass-backwards company or a “world-class,” “global,” fill-in-the-blank trendy organization.

You can make a difference in someone’s day.

You can be the positive part of their day that worked out, that gave them the answer they needed or that gave them helpful advice.

There is no excuse for being anything less.