Last week, Steve Browne challenged HR to reflect on if it is the “forest” or the “tree” of the organization? Is HR so focused on dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s that our eyes are just getting crossed and we’re missing the big picture? Has HR lost its ability to see the forest through the trees?
I’m still unsure. And so I’m hovering there this week.
One of my favorite sayings is “being able to see the forest through the trees is as important as being able to see the trees through the forest.” I don’t remember where I first heard it; I may have even made it up myself! What this means is the big picture is as important as the details. This is especially true in HR.
And I consider myself to be a good HR professional. I think strategically. I set ambitious but realistic goals. I connect each endeavor back to the overall goal and strategy. I am fiscally responsible. I’m mindful of the impact of my plans and projects on other departments and the company’s resources. I seek to collaborate and get input from others so that there is buy-in, ownership, support and accountability. I look for the weak areas and try to find ways to strengthen them. I’m kind and candid with everyone I work with. I work to develop my staff to do the same things and I seek to help other areas in the organization to gain a better understanding of the HR function so we can all work more efficiently to achieve the goals.
Yet I find myself frustrated and feeling like my days in the office stretch on and on, but I don’t really accomplish anything that has any impact on the big picture or the bottom line.
Today was a perfect example. I had a fantastic plan in my mind for what I wanted and needed to accomplish. Instead, I spent my day explaining for the umpteenth time to my newest staffer the procedure for initiating leave of absence and interviewing employees for a sexual harassment issue that occurred over the weekend and deciding how to address a letter from another employee’s attorney about teasing possibly gone too far and helping a new manager draft an action plan for an employee he was putting on probation for performance issues …
My To-Do list and ½ my cup of coffee went untouched. And I felt like the trees were falling in my forest and making all kinds of sounds … which is a completely different metaphor and totally messed up my creative flow!
And so I am left wondering if it is even possible for HR to be more forest than trees?Will every time we try to get out from the “dark underbelly of the Company”, we just get pulled back in?
I am not sure what the answer is. However, I am certain both the forest and the trees are important. Both matter. They need each other to survive and thrive. So I try not to lose hope that balance is possible … yet today I struggle to provide an example on when I or someone I know achieved the balance. So I keep wondering.
I will definitely continue to hover on this idea for awhile. I welcome your thoughts.