The HR Profession – Chasing Two Rabbits.

Paul Hebert HR, Paul Hebert

Solarsystem I orbit HR.  What I mean by that is I don’t practice HR, I don’t work in an HR department, I am not responsible to an organization for talent management, satisfaction, engagement, recruiting or retention.

I work WITH HR on all the issues mentioned though. Therefore, I consider myself orbiting HR.  Influenced by it, connected to it, responsible to it – but not in “it.” HR is my Sun and I’m simply one of the planets that continually swirl around it. So I have a different view of HR.

The last few months I’ve been paying attention to the conversations about HR and its role in the organization and listening to the comments about, dare I say it –  a “seat at the table.”  And I think everyone is right.  HR is a strategic competency that can create a competitive differentiation for the company – one that is probably the most important differentiator in the knowledge economy we now work within.

I also don’t think it unimportant that the legal, regulatory and administrative elements of the current HR world need to be addressed and managed correctly.

It’s a puzzle no?

Great Advice This Weekend

I regularly ask people outside my core area of focus for advice.  It helps me gain perspective and provides information outside the echo chamber of my profession.  This past week, I was on the phone with a smart and insightful person asking about some business issues.  The net of that conversation was…

“If you have time you can probably pursue two directions, if not – you need to pick one and get going.”

I didn’t like that advice at all.  Mostly because I knew it already but just didn’t want to admit it, but also because it removes an option I like.  If I pick one direction I’ll probably succeed – but I lose a big part of what I enjoy every day.

Two Rabbits

There is an old Chinese (Indian, Native American, French Foreign Legion, Boy Scout – pick whichever comes up on google) saying that goes something like this…

“A hunter who chases two rabbits catches neither one.”

I’m a firm believer that if there is an ancient saying about something, there’s probably a grain of truth in it – otherwise it would have died out a long time ago (exception being Bill Gates paying you to forward emails – that’s still false no matter how long it stays on the interweb).

I’m thinking this is a similar situation in HR.  There are two rabbits in its cross hairs – the strategy, the big picture, seat at the table – and the little stuff, I-9’s, Benefits Enrollment, 401K enrollment, policies, procedures.

Pick a Rabbit and Pull the Trigger

Rabbits With apologies to PETA – I’m convinced, after orbiting HR for a while, that HR folks need to pick a rabbit and go for it.  Trying to be strategic while taking the accolades and Kudos for hitting Benefit Enrollment numbers won’t work.

If you’re in HR and your job has both elements, find a junior person on your team and give them the responsibility for the administrivia – let them target that rabbit while you focus on the other.

Or – pick the admin rabbit and ignore the strategic one.

But trying to pick off both rabbits at the same time won’t happen.  All it will do is frustrate you while neither rabbit makes it into the stew. But be prepared, like me, choosing one option over the other will require you to give up something that you like, you get recognized for, you’re good at or you’re comfortable with.  You can’t have both rabbits.

Staying in the rabbit mode, I offer the following video from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  (email viewers may need to click through to see the video.)  Regardless of which rabbit you pick, be aware that it may just be a bit tough to bring down.