HR Bashing: Don’t Let The Bastards Get You Down

Dawn Burke Dawn Hrdlica, HR, HR (& Life!) Advice

There seems to be some recent articles about CHRO roles being eliminated and HR reporting to CFOs/CEOs. These articles seem to say we aren’t good enough, smart enough and—gosh-darn—people don’t like us.

HR Perfect? No. Need a revamp? Sure. But are they so irrelevant that CHRO roles should be eliminated? That statement is as screwed up as a soup-sandwich. And certainly as over-generalized as saying girls only like pink and overweight people are all lazy. But should who we report to matter? Should how we break down our insanely broad scope of responsibilities matter? And does that dictate our relevancy? Ultimately no.

HR Relevancy

  • HR, you need a palate cleanser. For every “HR sucks” article there is a “HR matters” article. Here is a good one, yet another about Netflix, and a great one by Josh Bersin on Forbes.
  • HR jobs are continuously on top job and job growth lists. I think that is a nice indication many companies think we are part of long-term strategy.
  • To be relevant, you’ve got to focus on things that matter. It doesn’t matter if Sr. HR reports to a CHRO, CFO or CEO. What matters is if you have autonomy, voice and lots of respect. Great work is a much better measure of relevancy, not who you report to.

Also, regarding CHRO relevance, there is one thing those proposing moving HR to the CEO/CFO are overlooking. I’m going to let you in on a little known secret. CEOs and CFOs do not want to do CHRO work. I promise you. They may not want to pay another person a senior exec salary (ahem), but I swear most would rather eat glass than tackle the very personal, intimate and “gray” areas HR professionals face. Since it’s been well established, a) there is a need for complex HR work in the modern work world and b) other execs aren’t typically jumping stumps to do this work, then why on earth would any CEO fathom eliminating this role? Or better yet, offing it to the CFO?

Say No to the Hype

  • Quit reading any of the articles that say you are hated. You aren’t. Hate articles are a load of tabloid spin. Hate is such a polarizing word. It makes a great headline, but is simply wrong.
  • If you are disliked, you are disliked no more than any other “corporate” entity that has a say in what can or can’t be done. This includes the CEO, Accounting, any manager, director, SVP, VP, ornery customer, auditor, annoying co-worker who doesn’t shut up, meeting organizer, or janitor (I’m cleaning the bathroom at noon! No peeing allowed!).
  • Don’t let these tabloid-like articles become a self-fulfilling prophecy by buying into the hype. One manifestation of this is the Golem Effect. Ex: Nothing is more heartbreaking than seeing the girlfriend with low self esteem continue to tell her boyfriend over and over she knows he thinks she’s ugly. Or unlovable. Or stupid. No matter his reassurances to the contrary, she’s never relents, until one day, he starts to think she may be right. HR, don’t let these articles make you that girlfriend.
  • Articles want you to believe HR is not as “business-savvy” as other business units. Hold up. I’m pretty sure colleges offering HR degrees do so from the business school. I don’t remember seeing HR as a program in the School of Fine Arts. Who the hell made up this BS that HR folks don’t know business? Mystifying.
  • And that notion that all HR folks came from other departments or fields of study? That is the case for many, many other career fields too.
  • Do not let others (especially the press) dictate your value. It is easy to be manipulated by the vocal minority who hate doing performance reviews (duh). But the ones who really appreciate you are the silent majority who can’t admit publicly (or to the press) how you helped them.

I’ll leave you with a little story. Barbara Walters was a female pioneer in the male-dominated news world of the 50s and 60s. After public mistreatment, she received a letter from John Wayne simply stating, “Don’t let the bastards get you down.” Her take away: she let simple-minded people distract her from doing great work. Once she quit buying into the hype, her career took off. The work spoke for itself.

Let your work speak for itself.