“I’m Not Your HR Person” and Other Things You Want To Say To Your Parents

Kathy Rapp Communication, Culture, Good HR, HR, in the news, Kathy Rapp, Leadership, Organizational Development, Seat at the Table, The HR Profession

It’s inevitable. Every holiday or family gathering means that at some point, usually within 45 minutes of your arrival, a parent will pull you aside and say, “Can you take a look at my computer?”

Then, with great expectations, he/she will lead you into the office/bedroom and hover as you Google how to increase PC speed or fix a router.

It’s natural. You are an educated person and you work on a computer all day; therefore, you should be able to fix anything computer-related. For free.

I find this phenomenon also happens once anyone finds out you are an HR pro.

“Oh man. Do I need to talk to you!”

“So what are your thoughts on how I should fire my customer service rep?”

“What do I really need to know about this ACA stuff?”

Again. Natural. You are a self-declared HR person and you work with people all day; therefore, you should be able to fix anything employee-related. For free.

This is where I think HR folks can really differentiate themselves. While every bone in your body may be saying, “Yes, I can help you,” you shouldn’t listen.

If the HR profession wants to continue to elevate itself, your parents, friends, past colleagues and people you meet need to understand that one size does not fit all. The value of what HR brings to organizations is their understanding of that particular organization. Its unique culture, business model, employee base, market conditions, industry, org structure, politics, talent pool, etc. And, yes, there are laws that apply to equally to every company, but that’s the only thing that shouldn’t have a nuance given your particular organization.

Take SpaceX and Blue Origin. Both are building reusable rockets. Both have larger-than-life CEOs. Both have wicked smart employees. But I’m guessing their HR practices are not going to align 1 for 1—just as Elon Musk pointed out to Jeff Bezos that his successful launch and landing last week did not a space company make.

From his tweet:

“It is, however, important to clear up the difference between “space” and “orbit,” as described well by https://what-if.xkcd.com/58/

So the next time someone wants you to fix their HR problem, perhaps you should start to help by asking questions. Then explain that while HR may seem universal, effective HR is almost entirely dependent on a deep understanding of the organization and all its components.

You can also quickly change the topic by indicating you’d be happy to help and your consulting rate is around $500/hour.

Or, just do like my husband and me and say to each other “I am not your IT/HR person!”