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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

What is it Really Like to Be in HR?

From time to time, I have people ask me what a typical day as an HR professional is like. So, I thought I'd take the time today to answer that question.

Arrive at the office. Walk in and find fresh bagels and cream cheese waiting for you and your team. "Oh," your admin explains (there is always plenty of administrative support, so you never have to do things like fill out forms, or schedule appointments) "these are from finance. They just wanted to thank all of us for helping them out with the headcount they needed for the annual budget review."

Check voicemail. One message from an employee thanking you for the coaching you gave. "It really helps me integrate into my group better! I'm more productive now. Thanks!"

Check e-mail. Just some announcements from the company. This is not surprising since you did stay late last night (5:30) and got here early (9:00), so no one has really had time to send you anything.

Prepare for your first meeting of the day. The customer service team has asked you to come meet with them to help brainstorm some ideas to improve the skills of the customer service team. They recognize that by investing in the proper training, they can increase their skills and increase customer satisfaction.

Attend first meeting with Customer Service management team. Productive discussions around employee and customer needs.

Meet one on one with an employee who has a concern about a discrimination issue. After discussing with the employee, she comes to the conculsion that her manager was not acting based on sexist beliefs, but was being rational and even handed when she required everyone to be on time in the morning. Employee vows to be on time from now on.

Meet with the above employee's manager. He wasn't aware that his employee was in earlier, but just wanted to make sure his enforcement of arrival times was within company policy. "I just want to do the right thing."

Lunch with a former colleague. Always networking!

After lunch, take two hours to work on a presentation for next week's restructuring meetings. Thankfully, you've been able to devote at least two hours every day for the past two weeks to this, as it's a critical change in the company. Had several formal and informal meetings with the Organizational Development team, as well as line managers to help produce the best structure for the company. Thankfully, it's looking like there will be no job eliminations with this restructuring. This is largely due to the excellent recent hires made by this group. They've really taken your advice and the advice of the staffing team seriously, and it shows.

Staff meeting. Everyone presents their projects and gains ideas and insights from each other. You get a great idea from a co-worker on how to meet client needs.

Call from finance personally thanking you for help on headcount. "Did you get the bagels?" they ask. "We really want to thank you for catching those errors. Boy, that would have been embarrassing if we hadn't had HR on our side!"

Call from manager, "Can we set up time where you can help me write meaningful development plans for my team? I've got some really great people and I want to make sure they stay with the company, regardless of whether they stay in my department or not."

Call from staffing, "I know you are working on a restructuring of your client group. I'd like to be in the loop so we can be prepared for any new hires the group may need. I'm already working with compensation to discuss the new position descriptions and make sure all jobs are graded properly."

Ooops! It's already 5:00. Time to go. Even though you have a laptop you rarely take it home because you almost never have to do work from home.

And that's a typical day!

(Oh, happy April Fool's day by the way.)


Anonymous said...

My jaw was dropping when until I remembered that it's April Fool's Day! I was thinking my boss would be putting in her two weeks if she saw how easy HR was at your company!

Anonymous said...

On a serious note, why do you HR types fall in love with acronyms so much? Every time HR is behind a project, I know there will be some name for it contorted to spell out some word meant to be inspiring and easy to remember. The extent to which HR does this gets a little silly.

It reminds me of the Friends episode where Joey got a part in a TV show called Mac and C.H.E.E.S.E., where cheese spelled out the robotic acronym of his mechanical sidekick. Joey remarked "They really lucked out, the name spelling out cheese like that!"

Anonymous said...

Love it!

Happy Employee said...


I got all choked up when I realized how good we have it in HR. I'll try to be more grateful from now on!

Unknown said...

That is completely awesome.

Rachel - former HR blogger said...

I knew you were lying at at the plenty of admin support line. Am I really so cynical about hr already?

The sad thing is people truly believe that this is what our days are like. I was complaining to my boss today because I have someone bugging me about setting up a volunteer when I have actual paying positions that I'm struggling to fill. Sorry, but unpaid help in a department that doesn't need help isn't at the top of my concerns.

Evil HR Lady said...

rachel--you didn't stop believing at the fresh bagels part?

dan--we also like "code words" for projects that involving firing a lot of people. "Company Optimization," "project right-size," etc. We love forms too!

Anonymous said...


if HR was like that, i'd have probably stayed in it!

happy april fool's day!
all the best!

Anonymous said...

I totally forgot it was April Fools – I just figured tongue was planted firmly in cheek

Anonymous said...

Great April Fools Post.

The only Bagels I ever see are the stale ones I get to clean out off the conference room table before an interview.

- HR Newbie

Andres said...

Hey Evil, I love the post!

It makes me wonder why, for belonging to the least popular department in our organization, am I always being asked, "how do I get into HR", by my dis-enchanted peers in other departments?

Anonymous said...

Too many thank you's. I knew something was up.

Anonymous said...

Great post, but also sad that so many other departments view HR this way.

I wonder if we'll ever be able to break the stereotypes...

Anonymous said...

The only thing not true was the "April Fools" line...HR is NOT needed, its all BS! Companies need an employee benefits and staffing department, "HR" just gets in the way of business!

Surya said...

i knoew it from the beginning - belated april fool wishes! :)

Anonymous said...

I knew something was amiss when you wrote the 9 to 5:30 bit...

Curtis Salisbury said...

How do I get into HR? I am almost done (next month), with an MHRM and cannot seem to find a place to go. I also have an MBA in tech management. I want to get into HR. How?