05/01/2018 | Dee Yingst
Do we measure our success in HR by the number of times we're able to say "no" or the number of times we're able to make the workplace a better place to be?
HR can be pretty grim some days. Sometimes it can feel like you're the magnet end that repels instead of attracts (I warned you last month I was nerd, remember?): you walk in a room and either everyone scatters or the conversations screech to a halt. You get charming nicknames like The Warden or Dr. Death or others that can't be repeated in front of grandma. It can wear on a person.
Then there are the days when you get to experience some pretty cool stuff.
I once had a long conversation with a staff member answering questions about policies and my view on certain internal issues. I told her what I thought she should do in a particular situation and directed her back to her manager to ensure her manager was in agreement. Her manager came to me later and told me that was the first time her staff member ever went to see HR and came back smiling. What an incredibly gracious thing to say. I know conversations don't always end that way but I sure appreciate it when they do. Good stuff.
It's hard sometimes not to get so swept up in the policy and procedure stuff that we forget about the human part of human resources. Some HR folks get so wound up about applying the letter of the policy that they forget about the spirit of the policy. For instance, if your bereavement policy is intended to help your employees grieve a loved one, does it really matter if the loved one is the mother or the mother-in-law or the step-mother? Grief is grief.
The most successful managers I know measure their success not by their own achievements but by the success of their staff. They are definitely "we" people, not "I" people. Whether you're working in a small company or a large company as an HR department of one or many, it's important to always look for the "we" and look for ways to make your workplace a better place to be. I'm definitely a "we" person and not a "me" person – and I like it that way.
So when I think about my constantly changing to-do list I look for the employee-impact items and get those to the top. After all, no one cares if the policy manual is updated when their raise hasn't been processed…or how nice the building looks if they feel sick every morning they pass through the doors.
So here's your homework assignment: Ask yourself, how do I measure success? Do my measurements make this a better place to work or am I just checking off items on my to-do list? If all you're doing is checking off boxes, then maybe it's time for a new yardstick.