Strive Toward Humane HR: One Interaction at a Time

As voracious dreamers, doers, and visionaries, many of us started our HR journeys inspired to make a positive, lifelong impact on our people and organizations. Among our teams, we typically have the drive, emotional intelligence, and field-based backgrounds to guide strategies into 2025 and beyond. Yet, somewhere between the intent and reality, we stall.

All too often, I hear employees say they don’t call HR unless they want to be told “No.” That our cumbersome processes decrease morale faster than our catered lunches and team-building workshops can repair it. That our policies are outdated, and when they ask for data to support why we haven’t increased our own resources or technology in half a decade or more, nobody can find it. That, even when they understand an integral part of our role is to protect our organizations, our slow reaction times and vague, CYA responses to their genuine questions insult some of our most engaged people.

Why is the closure of this gap so low on the priority totem pole? How could our entire functional mission – to uphold the integrity of our companies and guide each one of our employees toward their peak potential – conflict so drastically with the perception on the ground? We set out to be wings, and we became concrete boots. & the reasons we tell ourselves for settling, are only stale excuses.

First, we need to own that we’re part of the challenge. Bam, done, it is what it is. Now that we’ve shone a light on the chasm, it’s time to fire up our creativity and become part of the solution. So, what do we do first? Shake a money tree, update our own technology, craft robust engagement programs, immediately give everyone the comp the market demands, and hire only unicorns who are both skilled and comfortable with conflict? Sounds great 🙂

Ok, fine, we can’t be that quick to pivot. But bear with me for a second, because the great news is that turning it all around really IS easy if we stay true to our vision. All we have to do is get back to basics! It looks a little like this:

  • When someone comes to you with a genuine request, show authentic interest and care in how you approach the solution. Yes, some policies are there for a reason, and at times they truly should be followed. But imagine if an exception is genuinely warranted: they’ll feel taken care of and loyal. & if not, think of the difference you’ll make if you just hear them out, transparently outline what you can and can’t do, and why. Turn the wall of “No” into a dialogue, and allow them feel like a human being, instead of an employee
  • If a team member isn’t doing their best, don’t reach for the write-up. Seek first to understand what’s going on: do they need support? Will a professional development intervention help? Are there goals you can set and work toward together to pull them off of their plateau? Let them be a part of a career conversation, not a byproduct of decisions made behind closed doors
  • No matter the circumstances, keep it professional and respectful. Your job is a noun, an inanimate concept. Your employees are separate entities from your being. They cannot negatively impact you unless you let yourself waver off course from your true purpose: to support. If you’re stressed, it is because of how you’re dealing with whatever is on your plate: not because another noun truly has jurisdiction over you. Don’t let your mood creep into your responses!

Easier said than done? & is there more to it than this? Always! But it’s a start!

What about you? Have you settled into complacency (it beckons us all!)? Are you worried about the cons of this approach? How are you currently working toward your higher vision? Please feel free to leave your comments, I’d love to hear your thoughts, too!

Sam

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