Why I’m Blogging for FOT – The Cynical Girl Isn’t So Cynical

Laurie Ruettimann Good HR, Influence, Trench HR

Hello, my name is Laurie Ruettimann and I am a failed HR Lady. It’s been five years, three months and six days since I worked in HR.

At one point in my life, I thought I was an invincible talent management practitioner who could also participate in strategic talent reviews and while simultaneously coaching an employee to achieve improved performance.

Turns out I was just a fraud in a sensible cardigan and a nice pair of slacks.

I spent 12 years trying to make friends and influence people in the HR industry. Then I spent five more burning my old career to the ground.

Now I travel to conferences and talk to Human Resources professionals about their careers. I stand on stages across the world and speak straight from my heart: the modern HR department sits at the very busy and important intersection of work, money, power and politics.

  • There is one corporate function that is responsible for attracting and retaining talented people.
  • There is one area of a company that understands the connection between labor, engagement and profitability.
  • And there is one group that operates on the ground and understands the implications of political rhetoric on the workforce.

That same group manages the complexities of legislation without interrupting the employment experience, by the way.

It’s your HR department! Hooray!

Except it’s not.

When I speak to HR professionals in the trenches, I don’t hear anything about work, money, power and politics.

What do I hear about?

Wellness. Wellness is the new team building. You can organize a kick-ass party around Diabetic Foot Week and give out pamphlets to make it fun. If you remove the soda pop from your

vending machines and bring in a tray of fresh fruits and vegetables, it also counts as an employee engagement exercise!

Performance Management. I wish that HR professionals could use a sick, tricked out mobile device and help employees align individual goals with departmental objectives. I wish all of those efforts could tie into strategic workforce initiatives. Instead, HR struggles with the basics. How do you maintain the shape of the bell curve and recognize performance while simultaneously explaining to your employees why Johnny scored a 3.2 and Judy scored a 3.5? And how do you really, truly correlate those scores to an ever-shrinking merit budget? Good luck with that, yo.

Putting Out Fires. That still happens, whatever the hell that means. Actually, I know exactly what that means. Employee disagreements. Payroll upload failures. Someone pooped on the bathroom floor instead of the toilet. If HR doesn’t manage these issues, who will?

Frankly, the future of HR might seem more rote and depressing as ever. But I am an optimist. I keep working in Human Resources because I believe it’s the single most important area of company where one employee can make a difference.

And that employee is you.

There is more to your career than mediating employee disagreements and cleaning up mystery poop. If you get to work on putting out those fires — but you keep the concepts of work, money, power and politics in the back of your mind — you can get the right people in the right jobs, impact the economy and create positive change in the world.

I believe it. That’s why I still love Human Resources. And that is exactly why I am blogging for Fistful of Talent.

Laurie Ruettimann
Laurie Ruettimann is a former HR leader and an influential speaker, writer and marketing advisor. Her work has appeared in many mainstream print publications and major news media outlets. You can find her on twitter at @Lruettimann.