Photo of author Paul Hebert, founding member HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board

Paul Hebert, founding member HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board

I’m to blame. You’re to blame. We’re all to blame.

Truth is there is enough blame to go around so don’t everyone line up at once.

Although, I’m pretty sure you don’t think you’re at fault for everything that is wrong with HR today. Heck – the odds are pretty good that if you’re reading this you’re not even in HR. You’re probably some consultant who has never worked a day in the trenches, but knows everything about anything to do with HR problems and HR issues.

I’m one of you. I have never worked in HR. I have had to “deal” with HR. Isn’t that what most of us non-HR folks say? We “deal” with HR. Yet, we work with Marketing.

Funny that.

I recently attended a state SHRM conference as a presenter, and it dawned on me that almost every concurrent session was being delivered by non-practicing HR folks. To me – a recovering Catholic – that is like taking confession from an atheist. It just isn’t right. The information wasn’t wrong, bad, or would  cause someone to lose their job. But it felt funny. Now, I did stay at a Holiday Inn, so I was pretty confident in my stuff – but I’m guessing others stayed at a Motel 6 or a Hilton Garden Suite, so they probably bombed.

I bring up the issue of consultants and non-HR practitioners because in many, if not most, cases on the twitters, Facebooks, Vines, tumblrs, etc – the majority of the content is driven by consultants and non-HR practitioners. Let’s face it… they are the ones who have time to do that stuff. That’s their job – post to twitter, write blog posts and get noticed as an expert.

HR practitioners don’t have time for that. They’re working – doing FMLA stuff – checking out new health plans – learning to spell Obamacare – figuring out employee engagement and thumping watermelons for the company picnic.

HR pros are busy, busy, busy.

But HR pros read the tweets and the posts. They see all the things they “should” be doing, but aren’t. They watch the TEDx videos to see what they’re doing wrong. All in all – there are plenty of people out there willing to tell HR they just aren’t doing it right. In fact, there are major consulting firms telling HR that engagement is down, retention is down, and productivity is down. What are you doing HR? Why is engagement down? You must be doing something wrong. There are plenty of people who are more than willing to tell HR how they are doing their jobs wrong.

Funny side note – a tweet from the conference I referenced earlier called the conference the “low self-esteem conference,” because in all two keynote addresses they said that HR wasn’t doing their job right. I said the same thing in my concurrent session.


What I’m seeing is that there is so much information on how HR should do their job better, different, faster, more effectively, more efficiently, that there is no way an HR pro can ever get anything done.

Just when HR commits to one direction there will be a tweet or blog post that calls BS on that approach and shows with all sorts of data, charts, plaster tire tracks, foot prints, dog smelling signals, and 27 eight-by-ten color glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one. And that’s before the infographics.

Plus every Tom, Dick and Harry in the company with access to the internet can find 10-20 different points of view that show the HR process in place is wrong and that all you need to do is put RedBull in the company drink vending machines.

How does HR ever feel comfortable with their job?

I feel ya HR… I really do.

I don’t have the answer other than to limit your exposure to social media – or find a trusted resource who has the time and energy to curate the best of the best and let you get out of the muck of the internet HR advice mud pit and only see what really has value.

Trust Yourself

I know in my own industry and business we have similar issues. I can spend the entire day, every day, reading about and following a different train of thought. What I need to do to get results is trust  that I know my business.  I know my clients and my needs and I do know how to  really work to make the right things happen for me and my team.

You’re really no different. You need to focus on your goals and what’s going on around you. Don’t try to absorb every little piece of information on HR every day. Sure, dip your toe in the water now and then to take the temperature, but make it a short dip. Use your common sense and your own critical thinking. Don’t rely on those that haven’t played your game to give you advice on how to win.

Think of it this way. It’s like driving your car by looking two inches in front of your bumper all the time. You can do it but you have to go really slow because you can’t react in time should something change. Same with trying to manage your team or your company. You can do it but you’re going to be really slow and you’re going to miss a lot of great scenery.

Pull your head up – look a little further down the road and do that thing you do better than anyone else.

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