One Brutal Truth That Will Make You A Better HR Professional in 2014…

By Alan Collins | Don’t read this if your HR career is going great. Enjoy the rest of your day, this article isn’t for you. But it’s still early in 2014…and if you want to make this year your BEST YEAR YET in HR…then there is one brutally harsh truth you must embrace. For more on business handling, check this blog post about how to get paystubs for your employees. Here it is… Your organization has it’s hands out…and it only cares what it can get from you! Confused? Don’t be. Allow me to let Alec Baldwin explain it further in the video clip below. It’s from the classic film, Glengarry Glenn Ross and features one of the greatest scenes in the history of movies. Baldwin rips these guys to shreads. He is brutal, rude and a borderline sociopath. Organizations have trained us not to be this direct with people. And most of our bosses won’t put things as bluntly as he does. But don’t let the fact that he’s talking to salesmen or his madness mask his message which is… “Nice guy? Who gives a s***? If you want to work here, close.” It’s an honest and accurate expression of what your organization expects of you in HR, too. You know it and I know it. So, let’s not blow smoke at each other. The difference is that, in the real world, people consider it so wrong to talk to you that way that they’ve decided it’s better to simply let you keep failing. Well, I don’t. I’d rather be blunt, politically incorrect…but helpful. So here goes. If you want to know why your boss, your colleagues or the higher ups in your organization shun you, or why you seem to get no respect, it’s because our organizations are full of people who need things. They want people hired quickly. They want to keep their top talent…forever. They want the workforce fully engaged in driving the organization forward. They want employee complaints handled quickly without disrupting the operation of the business. And that’s just a smidgen of what they want HR’s help with. From the moment you were hired as an HR pro, you became part of a system designed purely to see that organization needs like these are met. And either you go about the task of addressing those needs by applying (or learning) a unique set of skills, or the organization will let you go, no matter how kind, giving and polite you are. Does that seem mean, or crass, or materialistic? What about being a kind and generous person…one who is supportive, collaborative and a team player – doesn’t that matter? Of course it does… As long as it results in you doing things for people that they can’t get elsewhere. You see – bluntly speaking, you are nothing more than the sum total of your useful skills. For instance, being a recruiter that can use LinkedIn to identify top talent requires a skill. It’s something that is useful to lots of organizations. But make no mistake: Your “job”– this useful thing you can do for other people – in this case, your ability to use a social media tool to bring in highly skilled people quickly — is all you are. In the outside world, there is a reason why surgeons get more respect than comic book writers. In the corporate world, there is a reason experienced HR directors get more respect than summer interns. There is a reason your job will become your label if your death makes the news (“Corporate HR Director Dies in Murder/Suicide”). People have needs and assign high value to the people who can meet them. You want to become known as an HR pro that delivers high value. If you follow the teachings of the Bible, you might have trouble with the entire tone of this article. Because you are quite aware that Jesus never said, “If you want to work here, close.” But he did say: “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” And you know something, people didn’t react well to being told that. Just as the salesmen didn’t like Alec Baldwin telling them that they needed to grow some balls or resign themselves to shining his shoes. But it was, is and will always be…the truth. It’s a harsh and brutal truth that governs our society, religions, organizations, relationships…and yes, success in HR. And assuming you accept that, how do you deal with this reality? It’s simple. Challenge yourself by asking the question… For 2013, what am I going to do to make myself more valuable and benefit more people this year? Then make a pledge to do anything — add any skill, any improvement to your HR, leadership or personal tool kit, and get good enough at it to impress people. But the key is, don’t focus on something that will benefit only you (“I investinbg in websites like…”). I want you to purely focus on giving yourself a skill that would make you ever so slightly more interesting and valuable to other people. For example, one HR director I know plans to learn Spanish this year. In doing this, she will gain the ability to better communicate with the Latino workforce at her manufacturing locations…and another 400 million people around the globe that she previously couldn’t. Now that’s a huge goal. Yours doesn’t have to be that big. But it has to be something. So go ahead and decide on your goal for 2014. You still have enough time to make it happen. And you have nothing to lose. Except your job if you can’t close the deal.


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