HR has a credibility gap. We just don’t get the respect we deserve. Or, at least, it seems HR likes to think HR has a credibility gap. There is no shortage of HR folks who think they don’t get the respect they deserve. Maybe they don’t, but it’s interesting to see what they think will create credibility.
I attended the Illinois State SHRM conference recently (a great conference that’s worth crossing state lines for) and a participant, fairly new to HR, expressed concern that we weren’t allowed to have fun in HR. Um, pardon? Apparently her boss and other HR leaders in their community felt that having fun destroys credibility. They believed executives wouldn’t respect HR if we were ever viewed as having fun.
A significant part of my career has been in leadership development and I’ve traveled around and spoken to and worked with leaders in many companies, in many industries, in many countries. Never once did any leader say, “You know what destroys leadership credibility? Fun! I hate it. When I’m looking for strategies to get the most out of my employees, forget someone who can link selection, development, and retention to solving business problems, I want an HR leader who is bitter, dour, mean, and boring. Get me someone who can put fun to the side and make this a culture where our employees hate being here. That’ll solve our business problems!”
Fun doesn’t have to mean frivolous. Fun doesn’t have to mean silly. Fun doesn’t have to mean you don’t know what you’re doing. Fun doesn’t have to mean you don’t take serious issues seriously. Fun can mean that people create significant results and enjoy doing it; that although they take their jobs seriously, they don’t take themselves too seriously. It is entirely possible to be outstanding at what you do AND have fun.
Work isn’t always fun. Often, it’s difficult, complicated, and unpleasant. Which is why I think it’s doubly important to bring fun to it when we can, to find ways to make it more enjoyable, to find the joy in our work. If nothing else, to have fun working together. To look forward to being around our teams. HR can’t make every day a great one for each and every employee, but there is so much we can do to create a positive culture, a great employee experience, and a strong employment brand.
It saddens me to think about the culture and employee experience and business results these anti-fun HR managers are creating. No one looks forward to going to work, giving it their all, and staying around year after year in a miserable environment. I can only imagine the recruiting, retention, and performance problems these companies have.
And they think “fun” will ruin their credibility? Too late.
Reblogged this on 101 Half Connected Things and commented:
Great post from Broc on what happens when specialists in ‘the people bit’ (otherwise known as HR) forget that people tend to, you know, like to have fun like…um…people
Being out of touch with people to the degree that you do understand that people like to have fun can seriously impact credibility. It is sometimes hard enough to make work fun that the world won’t benefit from people deliberately trying to kill fun where they find it. I’m off to do something fun just to even things up.
My sense from the conversation was that you’ll need to have a LOT of fun to bring the universe back into balance. But every little bit helps, right?
The list of things I’ve been told over the years that you DEFINITELY can’t do it you work in HR that I’ve been able to do just by trying is quite significant (e.g. you can’t say x to y)
That sounds like a great blog post right there.