Years ago, I worked for a Worldwide VP of Human Resources who made the fatal mistake of standing before a group of HR women and misidentifying one of the eligibility rules for a program called FMLA.
“Who doesn’t know basic HR stuff like that?”
“With a big title like that, you’d think he’d know FMLA.”
“If he gets that wrong, what else does he get wrong?”
I didn’t like the guy, but I felt for him. He was a big guy managing a bunch of small women. He liked sports, and I think he liked being our boss for a little while. But no inspirational Lou Holtz video was going to save his ass on that one.
I was thinking about my old boss, a few weeks ago, when I saw a Facebook fight go down between HR people. That’s right. That happens. There were the people who work in the trenches of HR and deal with humanity on a real level. Then there are people who work in HR but don’t do HR — they consult and advise. Then there were the bloggers.
Who does real HR?
Who gives a fuck, you ask?
Well, lots of people do. You have consulting firms defining one version of HR. You have leaders and seasoned consultants defining another version. There are people who work in the bowels of HR and do work you would never do. They speak out, and I think their experiences are relevant. Then you have some people who lost their jobs in a recession and never found work. They blog about HR — and do it well, too.
Don’t all those points matter?
Not to some people.
I saw this fight go down, and I thought — sucks to be anyone who has a dog in that fight. Then I remembered that I have a dog in that fight. I earn money from the HR industry. And just recently, I drew a mental blank and couldn’t remember what WARN stood for! I also couldn’t clearly articulate the difference between an FSA and an HSA. I also couldn’t remember what MBO stood for, either.
I like to think I’m replacing all that hackneyed HR shit with some good ol’ fashioned strategery. Look at me — wearing shoulder pads and earning a living in the HR industry while being a super-secret punk rocker on the inside!
Instead, I’m just replacing my tactical HR knowledge with pop culture, Facebook posts, and cursory knowledge of articles I read in The Economist.
Oh, who am I kidding. I don’t read The Economist except when someone sends me an article. And maybe not even then, anymore.
If you work in and around HR, you have a right to an opinion. And, if you’re a halfway decent human being, you have the burden of respecting someone else’s point of view as it relates to the past, present, and future vision of HR.
Don’t like it? Go do something else. Nobody is making you stay in human resources.