Note from KD - It's “Falling Into HR” series this week at The HR Capitalist. Go check out my post on Fistful of Talent from Monday as part of this series. This is the third post in that series.
LOOK CLOSELY AND HOLLYWOOD SHOWS US HOW PEOPLE FALL INTO HR
There aren’t a lot of great HR characters coming out of Hollywood. But all you have to do is look closely and you can tell how they fell into the world of HR. Here’s five that come to mind and their match related to how they fell into our world of people, process and corporate politics:
1-- Toby Flenderson from The Office – Poor Toby. We smile and cry as HR pros as we watch him fumble through his day. Quick to rely on policy/process and slow to confront anyone directly and aggressively, Toby without question fell into HR by taking a transactional role and finding a place where he could survive. You and I get to the deal with the stereotype. Lucky us.
2-- Mary Winetoss, the rules-obsessed head of human resources hell bent on curtailing the hijinks of office workers planning to throw a wild holiday bash in the 2016 R-rated film "Office Christmas Party." A less known Hollywood HR character, you might be tricked based on her early reliance on policy that she’s like Toby. That’s an incorrect take, as her connection and problem solving with the leaders of her company clearly tells us she fell into the role based on being a “people person”.
3-- Dirty Harry in “The Enforcer” (1976) – The iconic scene in this movie depicts Harry’s boss announcing he’s been demoted to “personnel”, which clearly matches our earlier “don’t fire them, move them to HR” path. Harry doesn’t take the demotion well, pondering the move for two seconds before saying, “Personnel? That’s for assholes!” Thanks, Dirty Harry.
4-- Pam Poovey from Archer (FX) – Many of you don’t know Archer, but your kids probably do. Archer is an adult animated sitcom created by Adam Reed for the basic cable network FX. It follows the exploits of a dysfunctional group of secret agents, with Poovey being the group’s Director of HR. Ridiculed by her client group, but secretly capable of spy work with no training, Poovey clearly fell into HR by being dropped into our function at some point on an interim basis and finding a comfortable home.
5-- Ryan Bingham in Up In The Air (2009) – Partial credit here since Bingham (played by George Clooney) is a specialist who lays people off for a living. Still, as you listen to Bingham wax poetic about travel program points and benefits and remain distant from the people he’s firing, it’s hard to imagine he’s not a HIPO who parachuted into the world of HR, got comfortable with the perks and never left.
My point to all this? Most of us fell into HR. Some of the stories are funny, some are cautionary tales and some reinforce stereotypes. How you got here doesn’t matter. To survive in a world of change, you’re going to have to connect to the world around you and have more self-awareness of how you’re perceived.
I'm glad I fell into the world of HR, even if I'm not as good looking as Clooney or as cool as Dirty Harry.