Having a career in HR is tough. We spend most of our time in battling for priority, resources, time and voice in the organizations we belong to. Then we have to defend the policies, practices and decisions of the same organization to employees and enforcement entities. HR professionals are under-trained, over-worked and often burn out in discouragement and frustration. Many would say a career in HR is for the birds!
This month, the Buzz on HR is going to look at lessons management can gain from the birds. Part 1 looked at the Ostrich. Part 2 looked at the Chicken — and our old, childhood friend Chicken Little. Part 3 looked at the Vulture. Part 4 looked at the Sparrow.
The bald eagle is the national bird and symbol for the United States of America. However, they are not bald; they are “white-haired.” They live away from from largely populated areas in areas with lots of trees and near bodies of water, where they feed mostly on fish and small woodland creatures. They male and females are identical in their markings and feathers, but the females are much larger in size than the males. In the 1990s, the eagle was placed on the endangered species list as its population dwindled in the USA. However, the number of eagles in the US has steadily increased in recent years so the animal was taken off the list in 2007.
There are lots of interesting things about the eagle. The eagle builds nests that are up to 100 feet wide and 7 feet deep. The eagle has a 7 foot wingspan, it can fly to heights of 10,000 feet or more, it can glide effortlessly through gale force winds, and can dive at speeds up to 100 mph. But I found nothing more interesting than their wings. Eagles shed all the feathers on their wings annually. After a long flight, they spend hours and sometimes days pruning their feathers to trim and remove any that may be damaged and unable to perform optimally.
Can you imagine how much more effective HR could be if we followed the eagle’s example in this way?? If HR took the time after every major project implementation to examine itself for wasteful practices and procedures?? If HR made sure to rid itself of the parts of it that weren’t working optimally and renew its committment to maximum effeciency year after year?? We could soar to new heights and remove both the HR profession and organizational function from extinction!
Because, like the eagle, since about the mid-1990s, HR has been defending its very right to exist. The surge of outsourcing, contracting and consulting has left many HR professionals displaced and discouraged about a future in this profession. And those of us still in place worry about rocking the boat to much for fear of losing our seat at “the table.” However, just like the eagle has seen population growth, HR is seeing a new breed rise in the ranks. And this new generation is armed with understanding of business strategy and goal alignment designed to help us to help the businesses where we work to achieve success.
I am proud to be apart of this profession and its new generation of superstars. And I’m ready to spread my wings to rise and soar like the eagle. Because HR is not for the birds — and it is not for the faint of heart. I look forward to sharing the journey with you! Let’s fly …