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Mother, May I?

September 17, 2010
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Last night we had our GBR SHRM chapter meeting, and rather than a speaker, we had  Table Top discussions.  Each table was provided with a list of topics from which to choose, and everyone at the table talked and shared information around that topic or issue; comp and benefits, learning and development, recruitment, compliance issues, etc.  Then we shared back with the larger group by providing a few minute overview of what we discussed.

My table wandered off the list (surprise!) and talked about HR Horror stories.  Not an original concept (check out HR Happy Hour for some good ones), but always a lively one.  We talked bathroom etiquette, stolen food in the lunchroom, and other workplace antics, but our summation centered on “why do so many employees still consider HR to be the workplace ‘mom’?”   One of our table mates works in a predominately male organization; she’s one of only a few females in the company and has found that not only is she mom at home to her two sons, she comes to work and her employees expect her to be their mother too.   As a group, we came to the determination that this view of HR is particularly prevalent in smaller organizations.

So what to do?  How does one commence the weaning?

  1. Redirect employees (and managers) to the appropriate resource.  Bathroom needs cleaning?  Here’s the phone number for the janitorial service or Facilities Manager.
  2. Teach employees to solve their own problems – isn’t that what a good mother would do?
  3. Demonstrate the real value of HR to your organization – be knowledgeable, be credible and be reliable.  As a partner and advisor – you WILL be advising everyone from the CEO to the line-employee – but “advising” is not “doing”
  4. Determine the outcomes that HR should deliver – and allocate your energies accordingly. If HR is about enhancing the capabilities of the organization and its employees….what’s the best way to do that?  (I suggest a good start is by referring to #2 above)

As always, good conversation, good laughs, and some pretty delicious fried catfish rallied a bunch of HR folks together in an energizing way.

And perhaps a few more HR professionals will stop playing “Mother, May I?”

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Tricia permalink
    September 17, 2010 10:59 am

    Love today’s blog Robin!!!! One day HR will truly be valued for what we can bring to the table and we won’t have to keep wondering when we will be invited to the table! Happy Friday! Thanks for the Schooling 🙂

  2. Phyllis Hill permalink
    September 17, 2010 1:31 pm

    Love the Table Top discussions. They are a great way to network with some very interesting people in HR who can share their knowledge and experience on a vast number of topics. Even those that are not on the list.

    Great blog.

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