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We’re in a bubble. 

Far too many senior-level HR professionals are quitting their jobs and becoming business consultants and executives coaches. These men and women give up PTO, step outside of their company’s headquarters for the first time in a decade, and say things like “performance reviews are lame” and “compensation policies are unfair” as if they just invented that hot take on HR.

Where have they been for the past decade? Who knows? But these leaders are here, now, operating as business advisors and pretending like they invented a new way of HR — including flexible work policies and micro-learning. 

And it’s weird because none of this is new.

Just yesterday, I chatted with a senior HR leader who left her job. She’s looking for the cool kids in HR and can’t find them. Clearly, they must not exist. So, instead of digging deeper and finding kindred spirits, she’s trying to get on the speaker circuit to share her vision of human resources with the earnest but slow-witted HR professionals in the trenches who need her most. 

Did I have any advice for her?

I was like, yeah, lady, go check out your competition. They’ve been here for over a decade. While you were working in your cushy job and reporting to the CEO, there were men and women in the trenches of HR who held progressive opinions on work when it was unpopular and wrote blog posts that got them fired. 

This lady didn’t believe me. Who are these individuals? Why hasn’t she heard of them? And she wanted names, which seemed odd because I had never heard of this woman until yesterday and she’s got my name. With a little more googling, she could find a whole community of like-minded HR professionals who fixed work for their companies.

But, no, she will fix HR by speaking at conferences.

I said, “There are cool kids in HR. There’s a tribe of folks out there who’d love to hear from you. Wouldn’t take much effort for you to find them. And they’d have great advice for you on the speaking circuit and, also, the history of HR.”

As much as I’m not a fan of the word tribe, there are people who are kicking butt and taking names in human resources. I hope this lady will be curious enough to follow through and meet the people in HR who eliminated performance reviews and adopted flexible work policies before it was featured on Forbes. 

But I’m not sure she’s humble enough to chat with those individuals and ask, “How did you do it?”

The HR Tribe is here for you — or any other HR professional — who wants to improve human resources. They’d love to learn more about your work, and they will share their wins and losses in a frank and candid manner. And they’ll support your efforts to tackle the HR speaking circuit.

All you have to do is ask. But, first, believe they exist.

5 Responses to Where Are the Cool Kids in HR?
  1. Mark Fogel

    Hey L,
    “Cool” post, send her my way to get a lesson… Damn it’s like a broken record playing over and over again…
    Your Cool friend!
    M

  2. Jack

    She is not going to be interested in what they have to say. If she made it to the senior level without knowing any cool HR kids, that implies that she is closed to new ideas and real change. I have encountered cool HR kids in every decent sized corporation. Too often they are labled as troublemakers and non-team players by Sr. HR leadership. We all know what that does to someone’s HR career.

  3. Richard P Kurth

    Ha Ha! Great observation. How many of us “formerly so-and-sos” are looking to capitalize on our former roles as if they are useful in the present and future?

  4. Kathy C.

    LR is my hero.. hoping I meet coolness test…

  5. Johnny Nyk

    Nous existons qui est tout. Caché à la vue. (roughly translated: We exist, that is all. Hidden in plain sight).

    I mean c’mon, I have to do post a vulgar translation of Sarte. I wouldn’t be a cool kid if I didn’t….