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What Egypt Tells Me About HR Pros...and Myself

Cliff notes - Egypt reminds me that HR pros shouldn't sit around while managers do crappy stuff that impacts people... or while people are in need from a professional perspective...

Backstory of why I'm reminded of that: The new BusinessWeek has an ad cover that is a scene from the Egypt street with the tag, "The Kids Are Not Alright".  Nice title for the cover, clear message.  I picked it up from the mailbox on Sunday, and of course I think, "How sh#tty must things be for people to take to the streets?" BW Cover

Workplace parallel: Things are so bad that an employee base thinks they have to unionize.  Or leave the company because they are confident things won't get better.

The person who can make the biggest difference in the work environment?  A HR pro who takes a stand for treating people with dignity - even when business conditions are tough.  It's as simple as being honest with people...

Of course, it doesn't stop there for me - I'm a six degrees of seperation kind of guy.  Probably 10 seconds after seeing the cover, I think of an Offspring song with almost the same name - "The Kids Aren't Alright", which has lyrics that talk about all the wasted lives that have come through a single street/house.   Which immediately makes me feel lucky, because when I think about people from hard backgrounds, I always thank god for what my parents did for me.  

Then I headed to church, at which point our Pastor delivers a killer sermon related to individuals being a reflection to others for the grace we're fortunate enough to receive.  The light, so to speak.

You're an HR pro.  You're also an individual citizen.  You're going to get 10 opportunities today to react to what someone tells you, shows you or lightly alludes to by acting like you give a sh#t.

Your mission?  Don't go 0 for 10.  Go at least 3 for 10.  Make someone at work or away from work feel like you cared.  Maybe you couldn't solve their situation, but you gave them the gift you could.  Time.  Thoughts.  Support.   Then work to go 4 for 10, and move on from there.

Don't think it matters?  Ask Hosni Mubarak.  Ask his senior managers who thought they had jobs for life doing what they wanted to do. Ask the guy embedded in the Cairo mob in a hoodie and a pair of black market Pumas without a job.  Or ask the real life equivalents of the characters in the Offsping video below.

Your light matters as a HR pro in the workplace.  Regardless of your faith, believe that.



Nice piece, KD. The dichotomy of the HR role is one of the biggest professional challenges we have on a daily basis. Functioning as both an employee advocate and a management business partner is enough to make anyone a little crazy. I also think it accounts for a lot of the reason HR is "unpopular". Our role forces us to straddle fences all the time, when the people on either side of the fence want us to be either supporters or team players, but only on their team.

I should write a book about that....

Joel Kimball

Good reminder as always, KD. Whenever I wonder if it's "worth it", I'm reminded of a couple whom I'd recruited/hired...geez, it's been 17 years ago now. Husband and wife PhD's, from China. Hadn't talked to them in 15 years. LSS, the man sent me a note last year saying he's happy he's still with the company, they have kids now, it's all good, and he just wanted to thank me for getting them on board...

*teary-eyed moment*

Yeah - what we do IS important, and sometimes it's being awesome. But most of the time it is just being NICE to someone, just doing something FOR them so they know you CARE.

Like the people I've fired who thanked me as I walked them out the door...I figure I'm doing it right when that happens.

Trite? Hmmm - I hope the whack job who goes postal doesn't come after you. He'll be walking past my office....


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