Over the course of my HR career, working for various organizations in roles ranging from being an HR department of one to being part of a team, I’ve noticed that -on a broad level- HR professionals can be put into two categories:
When I say “focused,” I’m referring to the group the HR professional is most likely to advocate for i.e. the C-Suite vs. the rank and file. Optimally, you’re able to find a happy balance between the two but in my experience, many professionals tend to lean heavily towards one or the other.
I am hands-down employee-focused. It’s in my nature. I don’t really know how to be any other way because I care about people. I care about people being treated fairly and respectfully. I care about people not being miserable when they come to work because of poor leadership. I care about people receiving adequate compensation. I. Care. About. People. My actions back this up. Truly. I can give you testimonials. I have receipts. (Word to Whitney Houston.)
Of course this is not to say that I (and other employee-focused HR professionals) don’t realize the importance of keeping business costs down, being strategic and getting the ever sought after “seat at the table.” It is to say that we overwhelmingly advocate for the employees and work hard not to have to throw them under the bus in the name of business.
Conversely, the employer-focused HR professional cares less about the needs/morale of the employees and more about the bottom line and appeasing the executives. This type of HR professional doesn’t seem to realize that s/he is also an employee because s/he doesn’t advocate for them. When new rules/policies are put into place that aren’t employee-friendly, this professional doesn’t mind because employees aren’t their focus.
Again, this is not to say that an employer-focused professional NEVER advocates for the employees or NEVER pushes back against unfairness from the executives. It is to say, it’s not their primary focus or role. And everybody knows it.
I look at this HR pro typing as similar to being an introvert or an extrovert. Most people aren’t 100% one or the other but many of us tend to lean more towards one side of the spectrum. I happen to be a strong introvert.
I’ve been thinking lately that the perfect role for me would be as an Employee Advocate/Ombudsman/Liaison in an organization that really values its employees. The search continues…
What type of HR professional are you?