Just a Coupla Chicks Having an HR Conversation
The other night I was at a local networking event (p.s. it was loads of fun – shout out to my girls Lydia and Flor) . It was for women, we drank wine, and it was held on Wednesday. Read more about it here and see if you want to add your own local event. But I digress.
While meeting all these fabulously accomplished women I was, at one point, damn-out dumbstruck. One of my tablemates (who I have since named Eva Gabor, cuz she was kinda glamorous and stuff), has been a working professional for 30+ years at small, mid and super-large-global companies. Upon finding out I worked in HR, she said to me: “so what exactly do you DO in HR?”
Me: “uhhhhhhhhh; **………**”
Eva Gabor: “Oh Honey…. all I’ve figured out that HR does is enroll me in my benefits and sort of interview me so they can pass judgment if I’m worthy enough for my eventual boss to interview and hire me”
Me: “uhhhhhhhhh; **………**”
Eva Gabor: “so what DO you do all day?”
Me: “**……..**” “blah blah” ‘culture’, “blah blah” ‘ensure our managers are equipped to engage our staff’, “blah blah”, ‘compliance’ (yup, I said it), “blah blah”, “align culture”. “blah blah”, “employer branding’ (oh F-me, I think I really said it and can’t take it back), “blah blah” ‘company goals’ “blah blah”……………………………….. (like I really think I just wound down)
Eva Gabor: “uhhhhhhhhh; **………**”
(now btw – this delightful and accomplished woman was a true southern lady, only drinks champagne (like the real stuff from France), and was totally not picking on me – merely curious)
So there I sat.
And initially I was pissed. Does anyone ask Accountants what they “do all day?’ When was the last time you heard someone ask a PR professional or a Network Administrator how they spend their time? Who the hell (I thought) is ‘Eva Gabor’ to ask ME what I do all day? Just cuz her HR people sucked doesn’t mean I do!
Now Ryan Estis has told me I need an elevator speech (sadly I’ve ignored his advice which you should not do). So there I sat, on this gorgeous Louisiana night, in a fabulous garden courtyard, scrambling for the words to describe what I do e-v-e-r-y-d-a-y. Because that’s what really what she asked me. Not what my ‘big picture” focus is. Not what HR means. Not what HR is about. She wanted to know how I spend my time. How do I fill those hours between 8 AM and 5 PM.
So as I sipped a lovely wine (‘tho I neglected to get the name) it struck me that perhaps I’ve become somewhat
ashamed jaded cynical about what I actually DO do all day. But dammit – it’s important.
I’m in the trenches. The lovely lovely trenches of a small/mid-size company. I may spend hours building spreadsheets, cleaning out files, compiling records and planning system changes that make the lives of our employees and managers easier. It’s entirely conceivable that I may devote several hours to an OSHA/UI/WC/ADA or FMLA issue. I can lose the better part of an hour immersed in the minutiae of a staff member’s vacation time as I reconstruct time accrued vs. time taken vs. time recorded…on paper…by hand.. with a pencil. Sometimes our HR Rep and I spend a few days at a time cleaning out files and purging and archiving PAPER (yes, paper) records. And sometimes, as Eva/Lisa Douglas might appreciate, I have my own Eb Dawson at work who treats me like “mom” – and needs my assistance.
But I also have sufficient time to sit and read and think big thoughts. I’m fortunate that I’ve got time in my day to ponder and research and plan and envision my organization’s future. I’ve got time to walk down and chat with the VP of Sales, the VP of Marketing or a department manager to find out what they’re worrying about or what project is consuming their time. I can stop and visit with employees. And then I can wander over and visit with my CEO and let her know what’s happening.
So what do I do all day Ms. Eva? Simple……
I keep my business running.