What HR is to me? Well, from the very depths of my soul, my answer is: “A job that pays the bills.” But I have a feeling that won’t suffice for a whole blog post. So I guess I would have to say, HR to me is the ultimate balancing act of professions in all of the professions in organisations.
Maria Spelterini crossing Niagara Rapids 1876
The very best things in life are all about opposites co-operating. Life partnerships for instance are about a person being your best friend, your reliable daily business partner and rock of stability, yet they also require explosive attraction with spontaneity, unpredictability and danger. You know what I mean… the relationship that’s about having milk in the fridge, being supportive, folding the washing, plus jealousy, flirting and selfishness. We want to know everything about them, but get most excited about their hidden side. Does anyone else scratch their head at the sheer stupidity of our inbuilt expectations, and then think “sounds about right for this ‘life’ thing”? I cottoned on to it all after watching this Ted Talk which captured that dynamic perfectly, but if you’re not faint of heart (and I mean that Very Seriously), Eddie Murphy took that 19 minute Ted Talk and nailed it in 30 seconds (MAJOR crude factor though – so Not Safe For Work or for delicate ears).
It’s not surprising then that the one function in business that is entirely about human beings is also the function that must rock this opposites-play-nice game. Profits vs rewards. Productivity vs flexibility. Ethics vs achievements. Feelings vs science. Emotions vs maths. Fairness vs affordability. I mean, don’t we come into this opposites-play-nice thing simply when we enter a job? We expect to be treated like a professional (someone who can suppress emotion and get the job done), while being given allowances for our human-ness (with all the flaws and craziness that entails). And as employment has evolved to include that element of highly professional human, the job of HR has become increasingly about helping the opposing forces of running a business to play nicely.
So I guess I see good HR as the ultimate set of scales. Or better yet, as the ultimate tightrope walker. Constantly weighing and balancing the ways to effectively run an organisation and be a good employer. Going about our high risk manoeuvres on a daily basis, so often and with such skill that it looks like a walk in the park (maybe that’s why everyone thinks they can do it too).
Step right up ladies and gentlemen, let me walk you through some HR tightrope exercises:
Watch, ladies and gentlemen, as your HR manager perilously walks on a razor thin wire, but as an observer has been quoted to say, “I observed the tightrope ‘dancer’—because you couldn’t call him a ‘walker’.”
And that’s what HR entails to me, a place for my mind to be challenged, and to delight in that challenge. To go to that point of hard work that is compelling, terrifying and beautiful. It’s really not a bad way to pay the bills, and if I get to wear a mohawke like Ms Spelterina, then all I can say is “bring it on!”
This post was written by Sarah Miller.
In addition to having a fantastic first name, Sarah is at the start of her HR career, writing in some thoughtful way on her blog Whipper Snapper HR and with little thought on her twitter account @whippasnappahr. She just got a G+ account too! Apart from Social Media shenanigans, Sarah is a South Australian living and working in Singapore. Previous career aspirations included being a plumber, and being a ferry driver who sang to passengers on the morning commute. Thankfully, HR seems to be working out well for her.