Saturday, December 22, 2007

Why I Love HR

HR puts feet to dreams. When leaders and entrepreneurs lie awake at night and spin grand castles in the air, pretty soon they have to start asking themselves where they are going to get the talent to build those castles for real. When ordinary folks dream at night about building exciting careers – or simply paying the mortgage and feeding their family – eventually they have to start asking themselves what companies are most likely to help them make their dreams come true. Two sets of dreamers at opposite ends of the employment equation. But they need each other. Where do they find common ground? HR, of course.

HR puts the world to work. Consider the billions and billions of people who go to jobs every day around the planet. Steady paychecks. Safe working conditions. Reasonable management policies and leadership behaviors. Fair prospects for advancement. In many countries, unprecedented surges in standards of living. Who’s behind that? HR.

HR works better than the United Nations. Not only does HR put the world to work, HR puts the world to work together. In most major cities around the globe – certainly in the greater Boston area – companies large and small are filled with representatives of many nations – many of them would be in armed conflict with each other on their native soil. But unified by the common mission of their companies’ profitability and competitiveness, these employees work shoulder to shoulder toward their shared goal of a better future for themselves, their families, even each other.

HR is never satisfied with itself. HR professionals know that there is always room for improvement. There is no profession so dynamic and ever-changing as a people profession – especially one that must marry the intricacies of people and business strategy. And the mere fact that HR never forgets that things could be done better is one of the reasons why I love HR.

HR takes care of its own. I don’t think there is a better, more developed, more welcoming, more elaborate network of colleagues in any other profession. Throughout the world professional HR groups and SHRM chapters and classes and seminars and workshops and monthly “hole-in-the-wall gangs” convene, complain, kvetch, kvel, and share all the insights, news, and creative solutions they can. Even competitors generously share their best practices with each other. To borrow a line from a song from West Side Story, “When you’re in HR, you’re in HR all the way.” In HR you belong. You’re embraced. You grow. You give back. You’re welcome.

HR builds communities. Communities are filled with employees, former employees and future employees. Through HR, companies partner with community leadership to foster stability, hope, growth and development for all their citizens and constituents. When there are jobs people stay. When people stay there is a tight fabric of relationships, memories, dreams and willingness to invest and sacrifice for an even better future.

HR is a stupidity buffer. HR is often the only thing that stands between terrible ideas from company leadership and its people (and its customers, and its shareholder interests). With its legal, fiduciary, strategic and human understanding of the people impact of any kind of leadership initiative, HR has the best vantage point of all the functions in a company, and has the perspective necessary to put the brakes on “stupid leadership tricks.”

HR saves lives. HR is on the front lines of all the personal battles faced by modern humanity. Depression. Addiction. Domestic violence. Illiteracy. Street crime. Divorce. Despair. Thanks to the many initiatives and support systems that HR has assumed over the last 20 years, employees have a chance to prevail over their personal nightmares and sources of shame and stress.

HR makes greatness happen. No matter what we do for a living, we all share a single calling, which is to use our talents to make the world a better, more hopeful place. But none of us can fully manifest our potential all by ourselves. Even the most talented and singular visionaries need the support of organizations to bring their genius to the marketplace. We need each other. We come to our chosen organizations with our various gifts and talents and skills. And we look to HR to sort it all out for us, plug us into the places where we can do our best work and together – as a team – we lean into the wheel and build a future for ourselves, our families, our communities, our world that matches our best dreams and values.

HR matters. And that’s why I love HR.

1 comment:

Kuro said...

Hi there. Your post is very interesting and lets me know about why we need HR in companies. In your opinion, what type of person would fit with working in HR (eg. personality types)? And why do you think so?