30 Jan Addressing the Dark Side of HR
If you broke down an HR person into components, you might find a mix of 60 percent psychologist, 20 percent paralegal, and 20 percent administrator/compliance officer. Yet some people spend more than 40 percent of their time and effort on the legal and compliance items. This isn’t right or wrong, but HR people gravitate toward legal matters because they are more black and white than the messy human element. We avoid the so-called “soft side” of HR because we mistakenly believe that absolutes will work with people. They don’t and never have. We need to come to terms with the fact that we swim in an ocean of gray. We all know that people are tough. But we often lose sight of a key fact: We’re people too! When HR professionals deal with people all the time, they never put ourselves in the mix. This is a mistake. As soon as you take yourself out of the equation, you’ll become calloused and bitter. You will see the dark side of others, and that will become your focus and approach to HR. The reality of our role is that we hear others’ complaints and concerns on a daily basis. That isn’t easy but we need to learn how to be sounding boards without wading through the dark side of people’s behaviors. These four ways will help address the dark side of HR:
Remember That Everyone Has Value
When we focus only on “high potentials,” we ignore the vast majority of our workforce. Some HR professionals choose to work with the idea that all employees are talented because it’s a fact. If you make your first thought that people have innate talent, you’ll soon see the value they truly possess. Address people as people first, not the subjects of policies or procedures. If their behavior falls into an area that deserves discipline, be consistent with it. But realize we all have “stuff” going on in our lives. Strive for understanding before acting
Surround Yourself with Positive People
If you only surround yourself with people who talk about others negatively, you have no hope of being positive yourself. You see, being positive is not how most people naturally approach life; in fact, it takes incredible effort. Challenge those who are always skeptical of others or who accuse you of putting on a show by embracing positivity. Still, this shouldn’t hinder your desire to be fiercely positive your entire life. That said, whenever the darkness comes, and it does, you’ll have a stronger base to work from because you have chosen to build your core group of friends with positive folks.
Have an Accountability Partner
You will slip and get dark, so it helps to have an anchor or two who will be there for you no matter what. These people are your “confessors” who will listen to whatever you need to share while also calling you out on your blind spots or behavior that starts to get cloudy. Make sure that your accountability relationship is one that allows for give and take, grace, and honest, direct feedback.
Be the Light in the Dark
You choose how you approach people every single day. If you think poorly of others, it will show. Something as simple as saying “hello” or smiling may be just what someone needs to shatter the darkness he or she is dealing with. No great efforts and initiatives are needed. You have the ability to be the light. The decision is yours.