Sunday, January 20, 2008

Self-Esteem is the Secret to HR Success (yeah, that's simplistic, just bear with me)


After more than 20 years of searching, I’ve finally found the secret to success in this calling called HR. And I found it reading the Sunday New York Times this morning. Well, actually I found it in the Sunday Styles section. Well okay, if you must know, I found it in this morning’s Vows feature.

Yes, that is my secret Sunday ritual. Instead of going straight to the A section, book review, week in review, the infuriating editorials that tell me the world and the economy are going to hell and it’s just a matter of which will get there first, I go straight to the Vows feature. Men smugly call it the “women’s sports page.” And Charlotte in Sex and the City cherished it as the ultimate goal of all her aspirations realized. But to me, that one deep story nested among the other blurbs of pairings is the treat feature of the week in that I get to read about the happiness of two accomplished people who have only added to their joy in the world. Sure, I’m interested in how they met. But I’m also fascinated by what life paths they’re following on their own. Go ahead, laugh. We all do what we can to keep the inspiration meter fed!

Anyway the last line in today’s feature blew my day apart (I had all sorts of To Dos – including cracking the A section – but here I am writing a blog instead).

It’s a quote from the phenomenally accomplished bride, Eve Thompson, who after serving in Jordan as the interim director of a UN leadership institute, has been leading a public-private partnership in Kinshasa to improve mining practices. (See what I mean about the accomplishment thing?) This is what she says about the transformative power of looking at herself in the eyes of her beloved, “When you feel wonderful about yourself, you can do things.”

I get it…it’s not exactly Schopenhauer. But sometimes the right thing is said (or read) at the right time and it hits you between the eyes. And so this got me to thinking: How many HR professionals truly feel wonderful about themselves? Not many, I would suppose. I mean, how many professions have been featured on the cover of a major national magazine as the target of derision…and actually agreed with the magazine’s sentiment? I’ve been annoyed about that for over two solid years.

It’s time that HR built its collective self-esteem by pursuing those things that make people leaders feel wonderful about themselves. How can you feel wonderful about yourself in HR? Allow me to count the ways:

  • You work for a company or company that holds great meaning for you personally.
  • You work for a boss you respect and who, by the way, respects you.
  • You are able to stay true to your values and morals.
  • You work for a CEO who totally gets the promise and power of HR.
  • You’re growing personally, professionally, financially.
  • You see evidence that your efforts are making the world a better place.
  • When you look in the eyes of your beloveds – I mean coworkers – you like what you see there. You see appreciation, respect, trust, honor.

Have those things in place, and you’ll feel wonderful about yourself. And then the power and success of HR is unlimited. There’s no telling what you’ll be able to do as a result.

Something out of whack? Fix it! Pronto! When you don’t have those things in place, your sense of self shrinks, and so does your confidence in your ability to make the world a better place.

Making the world a better place is implied in all our job descriptions. It’s the gig we signed up to when we drew our first wailing breath on this planet. Like Eve Thompson, we are all citizens of the world. As Dr. Seuss said in my favorite book, “Oh! The places you will go!”

And oh! The things you’ll do when you feel wonderful about yourself!

1 comment:

Tim Wright said...

Compliments, Martha, on great tips to build HR members' self-esteem.

What's especially neat -- because it's true -- is those recommendations apply across the board: to any employee, any department, any division, any organization.

There's more at my Culture to Engage blog