One of the best things about social media is the way that idea leads to idea. How you can see a tweet, a blog post, or even a song (see this rather awesomesauce one from Doug Shaw and Neil Usher), how someone can take one of your own blog posts and build on your thoughts and lead to you having more thoughts. This happened to me at the weekend, and lead to some thoughts about the very fundamentals of Human Resources. Check out this excellent post from Christopher DeMers, which sparked my thoughts here.
What struck me was this. That in the race for the seat at the table, the desire to prove our strategic worth, the need to find the elusive people stuff return on investment, we’ve lost something. In our desire to leave the personnel welfare tag behind, to be more than transactional, more than a service function, we have embraced clinical language, rebadged old ideas, jumped on bandwagons and just maybe, occasionally, forgotten who we are and what we are all about. What we stand for. And we’ve lost something, something important.
We’ve become embarrassed to argue for good people stuff for the sake of good people stuff, without some measure of proof for the bottom line, lest we are seen as uncommercial. Or heaven forbid, that we might be labelled pink and fluffy.
We talk of human resources and human capital. We turned how people feel about where they work into a percentage score. We argue for engagement because there’s revenue growth in it, allegedly. I could go on.
Just maybe, we’ve lost some of the human side of human resources. It’s not cool to be fluffy. It’s not cool to have how something makes people feel as the starting point for your people stuff.
I’m always arguing for simplicity in what we do. For chucking out your HR chintz. I’m always talking about doing good people stuff in my tweets and blogs.
And now I have realised something.
I’m pink, I’m fluffy and I’m proud.
Whatever comes next for our profession, whatever is to come in the future of work, let us put the human of human resources at the forefront. Let’s start with how it makes you feel.
Gem, you blog compellingly; at times I think of different situations I have observed, experienced, noticed in terms of HR behaviour and think what a great handbook for HR CPD your blogs would make. I understand and believe in the points you are making; every reason to be proud to care about people and to put humanity at the heart of HR.
When it comes to reclaiming pink and fluffy….. I dunno, those words make me think of a cute little toy, or candyfloss. When you say “pink and fluffy”, somehow it undermines everything else in the message. These words are used to discount, emotions, kindness, tenderness.
What you write about in your blog is pragmatism, people centered policies, respectful behaviour that isn’t afraid to be caring and kind and I am sure, that includes delivering tough messages and tackling poor behaviour in a clear way. You describe these as being enabling behaviours for businesses to build effective workforces. The messages I get from your blog are very clear and direct. They aren’t pink and fluffy.
Thanks for the comment Meg. I guess my tongue is in my cheek a little. I’m not planning on bringing any kittens to work just yet, but to me the pink and fluffy tag with HR has always been about the softer stuff, exactly those words you use in your comment – emotion, kindness, tenderness. Those things that can give HR a non commercial reputation in some organisations. I thought of the times throughout my career, especially when I was younger, that starting from the ‘people angle’ got me thought less of, and how I changed my approach to suit that culture – instead of standing up for what I believed in. For me it’s about not the pink and fluffy image of old, but putting feelings and emotions higher up the agenda when putting together the people plans.
Thank you for the kind comments about my blog.
I appreciate it was a tongue in cheek reference 🙂 and your points as always are well made.
I guess my reflections are to do with the words we use; delivered with insight and acuity, working in an emotionally intelligent way has positive and demonstrable impact on business results. I think there is a deep repression of emotions in the workplace; the unpredictablility of feelings and relationships don’t fit into the dominant mindset of command and control. The traits of bravado, toughness and competition are still prevalent and encouraged and rewarded in the world of business, so I believe the language we use is important.
I think the way forward is to name this dimension of our working lives with clarity and precision.