I have a working theory that 92% of an HR leader’s job is managing expectations.
People bring their issues to work. Whether it’s a stage-of-life problem or a money problem, nobody ever shows up to a job without their personality quirks. When those irregular characteristics manifest themselves in the form of conflict, HR is often asked to swoop in and provide counseling and comfort to workers who are disappointed in themselves and the world around them.
HR knows the truth. Nobody gets rich or solves emotional problems from working. You get rich from three paths in life: inherited wealth, privileged access to leadership roles, and entrepreneurialism. And you solve your emotional problems on your own time.
So when a baby boomer is stressed because his retirement goals aren’t met — or when a millennial is sweating her student loan payments — those concerns become fully realized in the workplace. And they become 92% of HR’s concerns.
One way HR can make a difference (and lighten its workload) is through radical transparency during the hiring process.
* It is okay to tell people that there is limited career mobility in a job.
* Be ethical and tell candidates that you hire at the 25% percentile and most people never earn more than 50% of the overall salary band.
* Try to own your behaviors and tell people that you reward discretionary effort through hugs, not cash or promotions.
If you manage expectations better, you manage your day better. HR could live in a world with fewer disasters, meltdowns, and emotional casualties. Managing expectations will lead to stronger hiring practices, improved engagement rates, and better retention.
And if we manage our expectations about work, maybe we can burn out a little less, too.