02 People Make the World Go Round

Regular readers (of my one blog so far) will know that I have just left my job. No funny business, I applied for and got another job and have now worked my notice: it’s all nice and amicable. The guys gave me a great send off on Friday. In line with company tradition, there was what I christened a “ritual shaming”, with lots of kind words being said and many promises to keep in touch, (most of which I intend to honour!).

Later in the evening I finally had a chance to read the many comments in my leaving card. I have heard it said that working in HR is a bit like being a doctor in that you’re there at the beginning, you’re there at the end and often for any gnarly bits in between. What struck me from the card was that many people had individual anecdotes in mind about my interactions with them that came across in what they wrote. One of my favourite comments, from someone who had had two kids during my seven years at the company, was ” Thanks for all your support and the two MATB1s!”

We’ve been talking a lot lately in blogs, on Twitter and as part of the CIPD’s Hackathon about stripping back HR’s much-criticised focus on policies and procedures and instead making quality conversations happen around the business. Talking to people last week and reflecting on seven years service has led me to draw some conclusions that I thought I’d share for you to ponder on.

  • We all want to leave a legacy and be remembered when we move on in our career.
  • No one is going to remember you for the Staff Handbook you wrote, no matter how technically wonderful it might be.
  • No one is going to remember you for the excellent redundancy advice you gave the senior management team.
  • Not many will even remember that it was you who sorted out their salary increase, got vending machines installed in the kitchen after a long campaign or planned and delivered that Away Day that everyone enjoyed.
  • People will remember how you made them feel when you went about the day to day stuff you do. It might be day to day for you but sickness, maternity, paternity, pay and Ts and Cs (for example) are all significantly life-affecting things for the people we work with.

People do make the world go round and no more so than in the business world. Working in HR puts us – especially the generalists amongst us – in the front line of making sure they are treated properly and enabled to do the work we’ve brought them in to do. So bear that in mind next time you’re trying desperately to finish off an important email to the Chief Exec and someone pops their head around the door for ‘a quick word’ about the maternity policy. Which of the two activities is going to add more value to both the business and your legacy in the long run?

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