If Santa Granted HR Wishes

Kathy Rapp Change, Engagement and Satisfaction, Good HR, Kathy Rapp, Organizational Development, Trench HR

How many of you still write Santa letters?  Unfortunately, I think it’s a dying tradition.  I’m guessing kids simply text St. Nick now.  I haven’t looked, but I bet there’s probably an app for that.

I like writing and getting letters.  So, in the spirit of tradition I’m going to write Santa a letter (and yes, I know I’m a few days late).  I’m not looking for presents, but rather for him to grant some of my HR wishes for 2014 and beyond.

Dearest Santa,

My wish list for HR folks this coming year consists of three requests:

  • Be Real.  As HR pros we need to stop with the buzzwords.  The jargon turns people off and doesn’t make us sound any niftier than our peers.  Give HR the courage and the vocabulary to say what we mean and follow it up with actions.  Less “strategic,” “empowerment” and “value-add” and more, “I want to make an effort to learn your business so I’m volunteering to work on XYZ project/spend a week in the field/answer phones in the call center, etc.”. Help us be real by letting our guard down every now and then, too.  People want to work with others who they can share a laugh, an adult beverage or tough personal situation with and not fear judgment.
  • Get Dirty.  Let 2014 be the year of grime!  No more perfect manicures or over-starched shirts.  Get on the line, put on an apron, take a nightshift, go work in Angola or North Dakota!  HR needs to be able to speak field as well as corporate, and the only way to be able to do so is to get out and get dirty.  HR has historically been about “people,” but sometimes in an effort to sell our worth, we’ve sold-out on why we exist.  We are about people—we figure out what will attract them to our companies, keep them motivated, how to develop them and how to get the best out of them for the good of our business.  That means we have to get in the faces of our employees (and future employees) and actually get to know them!
  • Get Out.  Speaking of getting out—yes, please do.  Santa, show us how to network, recruit and engage with other professionals outside our organizations.  Give us an external mentor, preferrably someone not in HR, to expand our thinking.  Encourage us to speak at professional events, to blog and to give back to the broader HR community.  We can take a few lessons from this guy.

Note: I’m not asking for a new ATS or for all the CEOs to suddenly embrace social media and carve out a huge budget for HR, but rather small, yet impactful, requests.  While I may have been naughty AND nice this year (like many of my best HR friends), I’m hopeful you can overlook any shortcomings and grant my wishes.

After all, I took the time to write you a letter!

With all my HR love and best intent,

Kathy