My Next Job in Human Resources

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I’m not looking for a job — but my good friends Jim D’Amico and Shauna Moerke are on the hunt. Their search has prompted me to think about what I would do if I went back to work in Human Resources.

Here’s my disclaimer: I haven’t held a real HR job in over two years, and I’m not an ideal candidate for any job beyond barista. My education, while expensive, is mediocre. I don’t have my MBA. I’ve never run a budget of more than $250,000. While I can make my way around a balance sheet, I wouldn’t brag about it. I am cranky, I don’t work well with other HR professionals, and I would want a senior-level job that would move the function of HR in a new direction.

I might not deserve this job.

Oh yeah, one more thing: I would only go back to work for a company that wanted me more than I wanted them. That’s how I do everything, by the way — job offers, marriages, and relationships.

So here’s what it looks like when I have a new HR job.

  1. I would walk into this job with an exit plan. It’s fine to put together a plan to whip the HR department into shape and implement vanilla programs & processes that have short-term benefits for the organization. I could do that in my sleep. Ultimately, I believe that HR works best when managers and leaders take responsibility for HR — and implementing that change involves education, training, and recruiting new employees to replace the ones who don’t want to manage and lead. Then you have to reinforce a new style of interacting with colleagues, peers, and supervisors. Everyone needs to raise their game. What’s worse is that most senior HR practitioners have a very short tenure of 2-3 years. Not much time. So I have a choice: I could spend my time building an HR empire or I could do meaningful work so that an organization could function without me and without a bloated HR infrastructure. I don’t do bloat.
  2. I would have honest conversations around the words engagement and culture. I would ban the casual use of those words from my office. I might mock the first person who recommends that I hire a consulting firm to complete an employee engagement survey. I believe in metrics, and I believe in direct communication with the workforce, but let’s stop using metrics to justify a management philosophy that is trendy and hip. I believe that product, performance, and results should drive the culture & engagement agenda — and you need to look at your position in the market, your total rewards plans, etc., before you decide to have fun and throw parties to celebrate the wackiness of your employees. I love high-performing cultures and I like to have fun, but I’d like to stop jumping on the pop-psychology bandwagon to satisfy a silly desire to be the next Zappos.
  3. I would automate, standardize, and outsource as much of the HR practice as possible. Everyone says this. No one means it. They’ll dump the payroll lady and the HR clerk who loads data into the HRIS system, but no one thinks deeper. Most attempts to outsource and automate are made through the lens of cost-reduction. Let’s reduce costs, fine, but let’s also do the right thing. I am unimpressed with a firm that can save you a couple million bucks by automating your non-exempt hiring. My Gramma can save you a couple million bucks. I would push technology to the limit in an attempt to rethink all facets of work and HR. I would also make sure a technology agenda goes hand-in-hand with a culture & engagement agenda. It’s all so tightly intertwined.

If I do this right, my next job could evolve in cool ways that could consolidate talent in our industry and make HR relevant in ways that might scare the heck out of the average CFO and CIO.

So if you’re the kind of awesome company that wants me more than I want you — and if you’re willing to take a chance — let me know. I might listen to your job offer. Otherwise I’ll continue my goal of being a writer, a crazy cat lady, and a local weather girl.

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