I’m trying to talk my little brother into working in HR.
I know, I know. It’s a horrible idea for a million reasons.
Wait, it’s not a terrible idea. He just had a baby, and HR offers good work-life balance if you do it correctly and don’t take yourself too seriously, which he doesn’t.
There are other reasons why this is a good idea. My brother is empathetic, but he’s not stupid. He follows rules but isn’t too bossy. (Well, he’s bossy enough.) And he has an extremely skilled job, but it’s not corporate. I think he could take his knowledge of how work “works” and apply it to the function of human resources in a fabulous way.
He hates my idea, of course, mostly because it comes from me. Also, haven’t I spent my entire life complaining about HR? Don’t I dislike many of my former colleagues? Also, his job isn’t in jeopardy. I should mind my beeswax.
Yeah, okay, I should mind my beeswax, except I can’t stop telling other people how to live. I’ve been shelling out career advice on the internet for nearly a decade. I’m barely ever wrong. Why can’t anyone in my family ever see this?
(Oh, yeah, because they are family.)
My brother played along because he’s a likable guy. He asked, “What’s the biggest challenge HR faces at a department? How could I make a difference?”
Sheesh, this kid is built for HR. That’s precisely the kind of question HR should ask itself regularly.
So I told my him that HR leaders can’t influence for crap (although they think otherwise), and he would have instant credibility with fellow leaders because he’s done some real work and understands the ins and outs of his business. Also, he’s a dude. Dudes in HR have (unfair) advantages with other dude executives. My brother could be a coach and a champion for better business practices that yield higher revenues.
My brother was like, “Meh, doesn’t sound like my thing. I’m out.”
I’m not going to lie. HR doesn’t seem like anybody’s thing. When my colleagues tell me they’re passionate about workforce analytics or recruiting, I think they are lying to me. Whereas a sane person might be passionate about rescuing animals or parenthood, HR people like to lie and say that they’re passionate about dumb stuff like employer branding or wellness programs.
I just want to ask: Is today the day I woke up looking stupid? I don’t think so.
My brother would be a happy warrior for HR. He’s not alone. There’s a whole generation of kids who opted out of HR who would do great work without making HR into something it isn’t, which is a big deal.
We need more up-and-coming leaders who don’t mind the fluff but are willing to endure the actual work of doing HR and recruiting. And if you can’t attract pragmatic and even-keeled young adults into your talent pipeline, I don’t know how you continue to thrive as a profession.
Maybe you don’t.