You’ll often hear HR professionals say that they “fell” into HR. It seems to be a common theme. I’m super accident-prone (klutzy, unstable, wobbly), so “falling” always sounds accidental. When it comes to my career, there is no doubt in my mind that landing in HR was anything but accidental.
There was a time in my career, however, when I was at a crossroads. I was in a toxic environment. Leadership was shady at best – secretive, narcissistic, reckless (and yet somehow very deliberate), uncaring, controlling, micro-managing, manipulative, borderline unethical. Leadership squashed any attempt to improve communication, listen to feedback, or treat people as if they brought value to the organization. (I was often told that the only recognition people needed was a paycheck every two weeks.) Since that was the behavior that was modeled, employees acted in kind. The running motto, I kid you not, was “We eat our own.” (Sounds fun, huh?) I felt drained, exhausted, depressed, disappointed and completely spent. I thought, if this is what HR is, forget it.
I had registered for the SHRM Annual Conference that year. I thought to myself, “I’ll go. If my passion for HR is refreshed, I will choose to stay in HR. If not, I’m out.”
That year I leaned in and really engaged in the sessions. More importantly, I connected with people. I found the HR community on Twitter. I found Steve Browne (Master Connector, and Mr. Positivity). I learned that what I was experiencing, while sadly not unusual, wasn’t because of HR. I learned that my environment was toxic. I learned it wasn’t me. (It was them.) It was impossible for anyone to thrive in that environment.
As one very wise co-worker friend (repeatedly) said, “We all have choices.”
Yes. Yes, we do.
I chose to leave that environment.
Since then, I found the environment that feeds my passion for people, stretches me, and allows me to innovate and thrive. (I’m so glad I didn’t walk away from this profession!)
HR is hard. People are messy. To be in this business, you must have a strength, personal resolve and commitment to bringing goodness with you every day. (Kate Bischoff talked about being loyal to yourself and your values in her most recent #DisruptHRBrookings talk. Watch and listen here.) You can choose to get sucked into a negative environment. Or you can choose to remain positive, and make a positive impact – on the business, on your team, on individual employees. And you can choose your environment. It isn’t a weakness to choose to leave when you know your environment is toxic (abusive). You demonstrate a strength of character when you know your self worth and capabilities, and know when you are limited in your ability to apply those capabilities because of something outside of your control. I’m not suggesting to shift blame. (It’s important to own your part and what you’re contributing – positive and negative.) What I’m saying is if you know you can’t thrive in your current work situation, maybe it’s time to consider another opportunity where you’re able to flourish.
I have remained in HR because when I boil it down to one thing, I want the workplace and the work people do to be such a positive force in their personal lives that the sacrifices we each make to come to work 8+ hours every day (limiting time with children, significant others, loved ones, community, hobbies, etc.) is worth it.
I love HR because I have the ability to impact every single person in my organization. HR is work. Some days it’s exhausting. I am driven by my genuine care for people and the unique value they bring to the workplace. Every day is different. Every day is a challenge. And every day is a reward.
While I didn’t initially purposefully seek this industry out, the path I was on twisted and turned, as most interesting paths do. And I found myself in HR.
I didn’t choose HR. HR chose me.
#HRonPurpose #HRRising #HRLeadership #People #HumanResourcesProfessionalDay #HRShenanigans