Are Human Resources people different than the rest of the "normal" people?
I need your help in answering this question because I'm really self-conscious about the general perception of my profession right now.
You see, last week I spent an entire day cooped up in a conference room with nine other managers who are all involved in a large-scale consolidation of two of our US-based manufacturing plants. I know all of the other managers very well, but a consultant was brought in from the outside to facilitate the meeting. As you can probably gather from my blog, I like to try to keep things light and exploit the funny moments that happen in life. I do the same thing at work. Everybody on the team already knew this about me except for the outside consultant, who blended in as seamlessly as cute little Sam McKinney on Diff'rent Strokes.
Even though this team is dealing with very serious issues and making major decisions (e.g. union negotiations, eliminating jobs, moving large equipment across the country, whether we should use the sharpie that smells like grape or licorice, etc.) I found a few times during our meeting to crack a joke that had the whole group laughing. After one particularly humorous quip I almost just got up and left the meeting for good, a la George Constanza with the Yankees. Despite my better judgment, I stayed for the rest of the day and ended up having a conversation that has troubled me ever since.
At the conclusion of the meeting the outside consultant came up to me and we chatted for a minute. It was my exchange with him that has me paranoid about the perception of HR people:
Consultant: "We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we really made some progress today and accomplished the main goals we had set as a group."
Me: "I agree. I never thought we would finish the 12-foot sub we ordered, but we really came together as a team and pulled it off."
Consultant: Laughing, "You're pretty funny -- "
Consultant: "--for an HR guy."
Me: "Uh, ummmm, uhhhh. I'm going home now."
I've been rattled ever since. What does that mean, exactly - "for an HR guy?" Are we so different from the mainstream that we need to be singled out like that. Saying "--for an HR guy--" is kind of like saying, "Hey, you're pretty skinny...for a fat person," or "you make really smart decisions...for somebody who bought an adjustable rate mortgage."
Um, thanks? I guess.
A few days passed and the stench of the "--for an HR guy--" comment was beginning to fade. Just as I was about to convince myself that not all HR people are as dopey as Toby in The Office or as evil as Dilbert's Catbert, I made the mistake of visiting SHRM.org last Friday. SHRM is the acronym for our national HR association and it stands for Suckers who Harass Rotten Managers. Just kidding. It really stands for the Society for Human Resource Management, but I think my alternative is just as valid. To my horror, two of the lead articles at SHRM made me understand why a lot of people need to make a qualifier like "--for an HR guy--" (the key points are highlighted in red):
Yes, that's right. With everything else the HR community should be focusing on right now our national organization decides to dedicate two of its lead articles to decrying the risks of March Madness tournaments (gambling addictions, lost productivity, inexplicable attractions to Gonzaga as a Cinderella pick) and whining about employees who blog and/or express their minds on social networking sites.
This criticism of social networking makes me so mad that I just updated my Facebook status to, "The NMH is EXASPERATED!!! Aarrrrghhhh!!!!"
Let's see. March Madness = Nightmare? Employee blogs = Headache? No wonder so many people think HR is made up of a bunch of worrisome, killjoy wet blankets. For the record, I love March Madness (see previous post and JOIN THE LEAGUE TODAY!) and blogging/Facebooking. Don't be surprised if I show up as Public Enemy #1 on SHRM.org tomorrow. To quote from Pee-Wee Herman: "I'm a loner, Dottie, a rebel."
So, please help me out by posting comments on the following topic:
Describe the typical HR person in ten words or less.
I set up a poll on the right hand side as well, so please take a sec to share your opinion. Your insights will be very helpful. It will be very interesting to see what words people use. Not to sound too much like Michael Scott, but I'm expecting the words "studly", "beefcake", "genius", and "dashing" to be used pretty frequently.
But then again, maybe I'm just overly optimistic -- for an HR guy.
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