To be honest, I’ve been feeling a little militant these days. There’s unrest all around us. There’s hatred. There’s a blatant disregard for certain groups of people, their struggles and quite frankly their rights. It’s partially my fault though, as I watch the news before I leave for work in the morning so I drive in with a chip on my shoulder that I dare anyone to knock off. Working for a news organization I’m also surrounded with constant sound bites and updates once I arrive to the office.
I have to remind myself of my purpose and why I’m even there. As an HR professional I’m not in my workplace for me, I’m there to guide managers and to be an advocate, and sometimes sounding board, for all of my employees. There used to be a time when our job was just to help keep the peace and to keep pettiness at bay, but with such a charged political and racial climate we are also there to be a voice of peace, reason and champions for nonpartisan productivity.
We Must Remain Objective
Naturally, we have our opinions about what’s going on in our country. We’re human too. But in our role of being an impartial voice in our organizations it’s important that we set the tone for how respect and objectivity must remain at the forefront of our boardroom discussions, cubicle chatter and water cooler talk. Policing free speech isn’t our task, and it should never be. But our very presence should be a constant reminder in the halls of how employees can have different opinions while being respectful and appropriate.
We Shall Overcome
It’s oftentimes said that things get worse before they get better. I like to think that things just get harder sometimes before they get better. As we celebrate the achievements and struggles of Black Americans this month I’m reminded that things have never been all that easy, but in many ways they are improving. Conversations in the workplace aren’t always supposed to be comfortable, as that’s how change comes about. Tensions aren’t always going to be low, and it’s when things are a little hectic that people are forced to deal with their issues and differences.
It’s the duty of HR professionals to ensure that all people feel safe…regardless of party lines, beliefs and backgrounds and are able to remain productive in the midst of unproductive rhetoric and noise. There are so many things going on that affect our workplaces from a legislation standpoint that we cannot afford to get caught up in the ideological banter. Our heads have to stay on straight, and our opinions and feelings can’t be overtaken by the back and forths on Twitter and Facebook that only end with people being unfollowed and unfriended.
It’s a hard task as we too are just regular people. But it’s our ability to be different and to see the bigger picture that has given us the opportunity to do what we do. As trusted advisors we must focus on the whole, not just parts…on the good in our employees, not just the bad, uniformed or blindly passionate. Colleagues, there is a storm a’coming (at least 4 years worth), and it is our preparedness and knowledge that will give our people the tools they need to weather it. It’s HRs time to stand up and lead our people to safety and higher ground, and we cannot do that if we are over our own heads in the foolishness.