Not That Kind of Professional Help
“Good HR” is not about providing answers to every question or solutions to every problem. It is about helping others — at all levels, whether independent contributors or senior executives — explore the most viable options and, then, to implement the best one or ones. You don’t have to be a mental health professional to be an effective HR person. You just need to care . . . genuinely.
During my 25+ year tenure in the people business, I’ve had many opportunities to demonstrate responsible caring. Our craft requires a delicate balance on protecting the interests of employees, managers, and organizations. Often, the interests of these entities collide. Sometimes they crash spectacularly. At those moments a “good” HR professional intervenes to restore sufficient order to preserve self-esteem, goodwill, and grace for all involved parties.
When conflict arises, so, too, do opportunities to practice civility and compassion. Someone must, and that “someone” is usually a member of your HR team. Whether formally or informally, we are trained to mediate–that is, to listen actively, distill facts, remain objective, and counsel with empathy. We are trained to be advisors and confidantes, with on the job experience as the bulk of our training. The most challenging of circumstances are our labs; our beloved colleagues and coworkers are our best trainers.
So who does your HR team visit when they need guidance or the ear of “good” HR? The simple answer is: HR. Yes, even the most effective HR professional needs HR–a sounding board and attentive ear. We know because we’ve been on both sides of the stand (or couch).
When the dust settles, we relish moments to reflect on lessons learned, often in the form of debriefs with multiple people, both individually and collectively. We store mental and physical documentation of findings for or own or others’ reference when new (or similar) situations happen. We repeat the “caring” because that is what “good” HR does.