My Professional Struggles

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In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown discusses how owning our stories and intentionally practicing authenticity helps us to accept that we are enough. On most days, I think I’m a pretty good HR professional. But there are times when the shameful thoughts creep in and lend doubt to the reasons I continue to pursue this profession. So here I am bearing my vulnerabilities to all 4 of my blog followers. Thanks mom, dad and friends 🙂

Here are my professional struggles:

  1. I don’t like rules and policies. However, rules and policies are fundamental HR. Yet, I’ve never really been a fan of making rules and policies for everything. Why? Because I believe rules and policies are used as crutches by managers unwilling or unable to have honest and constructive conversations with their employees. I believe that if we treat people like adults, they will act like adults. I believe that patriarchal leadership is propped up by tons of rules and policies. I like to have the flexibility to work on a case-by-case basis. I don’t mind working in the gray area. Rules and policies spoil all the fun and totally kill creativity in solving complex employee relations issues.
  2. I don’t know if I believe that getting a seat at the table will really elevate the HR profession to strategic business partner. HR professionals are conditioned to attain “a seat at the table”. By doing this, we are told that HR will gain the same “street cred” as the business functions that create income streams; thus HR will have a voice in the strategic direction of the business. HR is told that we too can earn our spot at the big kids table if we execute the tactical work flawlessly, if we source, recruit, hire, train, engage and retain superb talent, that we anticipate business trends and execute on change management. This laundry list while not even exhaustive is already bewildering. It just doesn’t seem attainable. But I’m not willing to give up hope.
  3. I am sometimes too results-oriented. When there’s a problem, I must find a solution. My high “A” factor (dominance) drive on the PI assessment tells me so. However, in the world of HR and particularly in the practice of employee relations, sometimes there are no solutions. I have the tendency to automatically jump to a “remove the hand from the hot stove” reaction. Because of this I often find myself exasperated by employees who come to my office with a laundry list of problems and present zero solutions. I’m overwhelmed by my own prejudicial beliefs that someone could only be seeking my counsel rather than an answer. I also find myself overwhelmed because sometimes these problems have no solutions, or no solution that I have control over anyways. The reason is that in HR, sometimes the “solution” is just that you be there, that you provide a kind ear, that you are a sounding board, that you offer compassion and empathy. As an HR professional, I struggle to accept that listening can be enough.
  4. I take on too much and when my cup overfloweth, I freak out. As an oldest child, Leo, an ENTJ on the Myers Briggs and a High A on the aforementioned PI assessment, I am hyper-driven and have an insatiable need to prove something. A la Trump, I need to prove I can do all of the things and do them the best they have ever been done before. I see a challenge and I run it down, tackle it and rip it’s esophagus out like some sort of wild cat of the Serengeti. Inevitably, I take on so much that I can’t possibly meet deadlines while turning in a product worthy of my high standards. This also sometimes leads to a sort of paralysis where my world feels like it’s spinning off axis and to exert control I waste my time doing something silly like organizing files on my desktop. As an HR Generalist, I have my hand in all sorts of things and I constantly struggle with with the need to prove, knowing my limits and saying no.
  5. I have zero patience. In the world of work and HR, this is probably my achilles heel. As a child I struggled with having patience, and I continue with it as an adult. Things need to get done and they need to get done now. There is no time to wait. I have millions of other things to do, people to see, places to go, checklists to check off and so on and so on.

Getting my struggles out in writing helps. I also love to speak with fellow HR professionals; we bond over being in the same boat.

If you are feeling the struggle, I strongly recommend watching Brené Brown’s uber popular TED talk, The Power of Vulnerability. Also consider sharing your struggles with a community of HR professionals in the comments.

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