Let’s talk about your personal brand inside the world of HR.
More to the point, let’s talk about saying “yes” as an HR leader/HR pro. The biggest stereotype the world has about HR is that we’re the corporate people police, there to say no to everything we can – regardless of our level.
Our function declines a lot of things inside companies that need a hard “no.” The problem, is that a large percentage of our profession is behaviorally wired to say no—to everything.
And that, my friends, is bad for the brand. Your brand, the one that’s supposed to print money for you the rest of your life.
Being behaviorally wired to say no means you don’t say yes when you should. The people in our profession who are genetically programmed to say no are often the first people your peers in other departments experienced in HR, and as a result, most of the world hasn’t experienced a key HR pro or leader looking to say “yes.”
Those people suck. They’re bad for business.
But Kris (you say), it’s complicated. I feel you, HR.
How do you say yes more as an HR leader or a line HR manager? It’s simple:
1--Listen to someone’s problems. As Jay-Z and ASAP Rocky have explained to us in the last decade, the business leaders around you have many, many problems.
2--When they ask you for permission to do something that feels icky and risky, resist the urge to say “no.”
3--After fighting off the surge of blood to your throat to avoid saying “no,” say “yes.”
4--After saying yes, quickly follow the affirmative with a list of things you need them to do to make the “yes” a reality.
Need an example? Let’s help a manager looking to fire an employee we’ll name “Shirley”:
Manager: “Shirley’s killing me. She’s gotta go.”
You (the HR leader/HR pro): <huge gulp as you resist the urge to say no>
You: “I agree, if you say she’s gotta go, she’s gotta go. You have my support, but here’s what I need from you in the next thirty days to get it done.”
Instead of saying “no, you can’t, because you haven’t done this,” you said, “I agree, here’s the plan.”
Breathe deeply, control freaks of the world.
You said yes instead of no. That’s freaking huge, and here’s why - you interrupted a ten-year pattern of that manager thinking HR was going to tell them no. The list of things they need to do to make it happen is exactly the same, but the difference is that you just agreed to partner with them to make it happen.
Saying yes doesn’t mean “go crazy, manager.” Saying yes means “I support what you want, so here’s what I need to help you get that done.”
Advantage: You and your personal brand in HR.
This Just In: A Lot of People Are Counting on HR to Say No
So you said yes, rocked their world, and ceased to become a corporate cop. Oddly enough, some of these managers are actually looking for you to say no.
They’ve grown addicted to you saying no because it means they don’t have to deal with their own s***. You’re the excuse, the reason they can’t do proactive work on behalf of the mother ship.
Here’s a list of things that the managers in your company are counting on you to say no to:
--Firing low performers. It’s just easier if you say no, especially if they haven’t been manager of the year to the person in question.
--Paying high performers more money. “Want more money? I’d love to give it to you, but any pay increase request out of cycle is going to be denied by HR.”
--Giving the highest rating on a performance review. One of my favorites is hearing the following from employees: “My manager said she’s been told that no one can get the top rating.” Grrrr.
--Proactively coaching their employees on tough issues. We ask to be in those coaching meetings too much. At times that’s for good reason, but our need to be part of tough conversations makes the manager move slower, or not at all.
Some of you are looking at that list and thinking, “That seems like a level or two below where I’m at.” Don’t kid yourself, if you’re an HR Leader, you’re saying no too much and being a cop for those that won’t deal with their own problems.
The managers and leaders you support have grown addicted to HR saying no. When you say no, it means they’re off the hook and don’t have to have the hard conversations. They simply report your “no” to the requesting employee or candidate.
They love when you say no, because the alternative is messy. If you say yes and quickly follow it by what you need to execute the “yes”, the burden is on them.
I say screw being the fall guy/gal for bad managers. I say let’s embrace saying “yes” with a bunch of conditions that looks like the Treaty of Versailles and see what happens.
Start saying yes to change the narrative of how you’re viewed as a leader and build a better brand as an HR leader/HR pro.
Looking for help in enhancing your brand as an HR Leader? I recommend you take a look at SHRM Education Spring 2020 Catalog and pay close attention to these programs and e-learning modules:
- 32 – Consultation: Honing your HR Business Leader Skills
- 33 – Investing in People with Data-Driven Solutions
- 34 – Powerful Leaders – Transform your personal brand and executive presence. Strategies for Leadership in HR.
- 35 – Future of Work Fast Track
Use the code “HRRocks” when registering for a Spring or Summer SHRM Educational Program and receive $200 off until May 15th! (excludes SHRM specialty credentials and SHRM SCP/CP prep courses)