In HR You See Things – Things You Can’t Unsee and That Change You…

Paul Hebert Good HR, HR, HR (& Life!) Advice, Paul Hebert, The HR Profession

This is the post no one will read because anyone of any import is in Vegas dodging roller bags on the SHRM show floor and trying desperately not to look too hungover at the early morning concurrent sessions. So in deference to those who had to stay behind and manage the mines, nothing too deep today.

Well… either this is very shallow or very deep. No intermediate space here.

A few weeks back (May 26 to be exact) fellow FOTer Steve Boese wrote a piece on his own blog called “The Invisible City.” The post was about business travel and how many of us who travel for business miss out on the fun, the beauty, the “interestingness” of travel because it is simply a means to an end and a “process” that we simply “have” to get through to achieve our real objective. At least that is what I read into it.

But something else stood out to me as I read through that post.

Those of us who travel a lot see our share, and more, of the negatives of travel. The waiting lines. The delays. The rude, fellow passengers. The entitled snob in first class who’s only there because they look for any reason to leave their dull husband and to get away from their snotty, spoiled kids; and because the company pays for their flights, they earn frequent flyer miles that ultimately give them the upgrade so they can stare disapprovingly at you as you trudge past them to get to steerage. (And yes I know that is a long-tortured sentence.)

If you need any further evidence of the negatives of business travel just follow the #SHRM15 hashtag on twitter this week as your fellow HR Pros jet back and forth between their hometown and Vegas on the annual swag-a-thon that is the SHRM National Meeting. Trust me. Someone will be tweeting about non-working bathrooms and delayed commuter planes. It is fact.

But that is my point.

When you travel a lot for business—as Steve says in his post—you miss the fun and only see the negatives.

And when you travel that much, the negatives fill up your experience list and you become jaded. You become hardened and unimpressible. You cannot, even with a free drink because your flight is delayed, or unexpected free wifi, feel that the experience is a good one. It sucks ALWAYS.

HR Is The Same

Now think of your day at work. You can probably pick any day.

As an HR pro you see most, if not all, of the negatives associated with people at your company. You see the bigoted boss discriminating against other employees. You see the hell-bent-on-destruction employee focused on making sure the company never makes a dime and is actively sabotaging the assembly line. You see the manager taking advantage of their team in order to skip out early and get 9-holes in on a Wednesday (and a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.) You see the really nice guy in sales that always says “HI!” to you (and who has padded his expense report one time too often and now you have to let him go).  And you know his kid just got braces and he’s got a second mortgage on his house in order to keep up with the Jones’ in Marketing. You’ve seen the CFO manipulate the books so the quarter looks good—nothing illegal—just a half a bubble off “ethical.”

You’ve seen things, man!

And that adds a layer of crust. A layer of hardness you can’t shake and ultimately colors your world.

And that makes you not like what you do. It makes you feel a bit dirty. A bit negative because you are in the grime every.single.day.

And you hate it. And that will ultimately come out in subtle ways. You stop smiling as much. You’re a bit shorter with others in meetings . You’re not as pleasant. You stop thinking birthday celebrations at the office are fun. You come in earlier and leave later so you don’t have to smile and make small talk in the elevator.

You get jaded like the road warrior in Steve’s post. Nothing makes your day anymore.

You’ve changed. It was inevitable.

If you’re looking for an answer to that problem, I don’t have it. It is something you need to find for yourself. Everyone is different. Maybe it is spend more time at home. Maybe it is keeping a list of the good things that happen every day and refer to that regularly. There are good things going on at work. You have to find them. But you will have to work harder to find them because your job most likely takes place on the dirtier side of the business.

So today—just realize that your job is hard and your job isn’t always pretty. But you can find the beauty in it if you make the effort.

In the meantime I want you to know… I know.

I feel for you.

And, as Frasier Crane used to say… “I’m listening.”