Well, my sweet newbie Nadia has done it again. And she is now the first of my workplace characters to twice inspire my mid-week post.
Last week, we ran into an issue with a leave request and I had to step in before we ended up in an FMLA nightmare. Nadia could have fixed it herself, but didn’t. When I asked her why she didn’t act, she sighed and said “I don’t know. It’s like HR is just persuasion without any real power. That is hard for me to get used to.”
HR is just persuasion without power? Really???
When she said it, I immediately thought back to this article from the HR Examiner about influence and my favorite quote from it “Influence is what you use when you don’t have control over the outcome.” And that is what influenced my advice to Nadia — and further inspired today’s “honey.”
1) Persuasion is power. Being able to successfully influence someone, who would clearly rather take another course of action, to do what you want them to do is pretty powerful — and awesome! It is a critical skill in HR and should never be taken for granted or undervalued. And its power should never be misused.
2) If persuasion is power, then documentation is dominion and accountability reigns supreme. Not only is HR responsible to counsel and advise, we are also responsible to make sure issues are appropriately and professionally documented and that all parties are held accountable for their part in every issue. Knowing there is a clear paper trail leading straight to them and that their butt is on the line if/when things go awry is absolute motivation for an unwilling decision-maker to comply with HR’s “suggestions.”
3) HR has real power. It is always our responsibility to balance the needs of the business against the rights of the employee. Certainly, anyone in a decision-making, supervisory or management position should do this — but HR owns it. Within that, HR has a duty to act to prevent any action which causes the employer/employee relationship to be off-balance. When that relationship is out of balance, the organization will unravel. HR is the organization’s equillibrium — and if that’s not real power … well, try walking without your equillibrium. Let me know how that works out for you.