I grew up with comic books and couldn’t get enough of them. I loved the idea of regular people being heroes. It seemed like a great escape, but I never thought it could be a reality.
Or could it?
All comic book heroes hide behind their secret identity because the thought is that if anyone knew who they were as heroes, then no one would leave them alone. It’s cool for comic books — but it shouldn’t be true for talent advisors. HR has been hiding in the shadows for far too long, and it has only diminished our impact on our organizations. It’s time that we step out from our meek personae and intentionally take on a heroic role that we were born to fulfill.
I know this can seem daunting, but it really isn’t.
Take the following steps and see how your new approach is appreciated and needed in your company.
Passion is not a dirty word. When you are engaged in something passionately, you give it your all and your best. It’s not hard to do because it feels natural. Historically, HR has felt that if it practiced in a reserved manner, everything would stay in line and be easier to manage. Face it. You aren’t meant to manage, you are meant to lead. Only passionate people can lead.
It takes a hero to move against the grain and represent everybody — managers, employees, and everyone who comes to visit your facility. HR plays a key role in managing the interests of the business across the entire enterprise. You are the voice of all employees, and even some contractors, from the CEO to the laborer on the front line. You can take no sides because you have no sides.
The biggest part of a secret identity is putting on a different face when people are around. Cut it out. The more “human” you are with others, the more they’ll be human interacting with you. The emotional makeup of us as people is the most critical aspect we possess. You don’t do yourself any favors being an emotionless robot in HR. Drop the façade and let them see the person inside.
Fight the Villians.
There are villains in every company. Too often they get ignored, avoided, partially disciplined or promoted (if they bring in results). Heroes call out villains and face them head on. It will be a battle, but it’s worth it. Not only because you’re addressing people who should have been addressed long ago, but you’re setting the example of how people should treat each other. Don’t shy away from confrontation or hide behind some system of discipline. Clean up your workplace and let the villains know that they aren’t welcome anymore.
Form Your Own League of Heroes.
It’s difficult to be heroic on your own. You can feel isolated very quickly. The best thing about being a heroic talent advisor is that there are others who are in the battle as well. Instead of wishing you had others around you who understood your efforts, seek out other heroes and intentionally make them part of your league. Connect with them often and share how it’s going. Learn from each other and encourage each other to stay out front and out of the shadows.
In my career, I’ve been the HR person who hid behind my secret identity, and I’ve become someone who is now no longer skulking in the back hallways. I’ve donned my cape and mask out among the people where heroes should be. Employees don’t take advantage of HR heroes; they look to them to know they will bring out the best in others.
It’s a great gig to be an HR hero, and well worth the risk!
Throughout the month of September, our resident talent advisors are focused on offering tactical advice for human capital management professionals. Subscribe to Talent Advisor to stay on top of the latest blog posts and discussions to help take your professional game to the next level.