Magazine article Workforce

Introspection: Looking Inside HR for Answers

Magazine article Workforce

Introspection: Looking Inside HR for Answers

Article excerpt

While HR departments strive to be business partners, they also must seek to keep the human in human resources. This is your corner for helping preserve the balance between the hard and soft sides of HR.

Welcome to "Heart & Soul." I invite you to view another side of human resources. In my long career as an HR professional, and more recently as a minister, I've wanted to see a column in WORKFORCE that would be nurturing, gentle and supportive, yet stirring and deep. Over the past few years, I had given much thought to these ideas until this column was born. In the coming months, this will be a place for us to explore and share some of our joys, frustrations and desires. Please join with me as we delve into the reflective side, the spiritual or the soul side of human resources. Let's explore a new meaning and focus for our profession. The purpose of this column is to be a support, a breath of fresh air and a space where you can let go and delve into the inside-the heart and soul of HR-without criticism or judgment.

Looking inside HR: A natural beginning. I pondered the choice of beginning this new column with the idea of `introspection.' Why not 'inspire' or 'insight'? Those words seem lighter, possibly more likable. But there's something deep, stirring beneath the surface with introspection-like stepping into the unknown and looking at life from a different perspective. And then it occurred to me. Of course! We in human resources don't usually take the time-nor do we have the inclination-to look at ourselves from the inside out. We're too busy, just like everyone else.

It's interesting that the very first step in any outplacement program is selfassessment: looking at one's history, skills, achievements and talents. Outplacement professionals know this critical action is rarely taken by people on the job. They're too busy 'doing' to have any time for `being.' American business doesn't have much, if any, reflection time for employees, and that's certainly also true for HR. We want to be a part of the team, to look like everyone else. Human resources has made great strides in becoming incorporated within the mainstream life of companies by becoming true business partners. We've struggled to get away from being seen as `touchyfeely,' soft folks. We've spent so much time proving we're strategic that we seem to have ignored the 'human' side of HR. But this isn't about degrading our work so far. Being seen as competent and important to the organization is essential to our continued success.

Yet, just focusing on the linear mode of 'doing' keeps us off balance and lopsided. It keeps us away from our creativity, compassion, wisdom and intuition. We've become bottom-line oriented, strong technocrats in a workplace that pushes harder and harder for more productivity and more hours. Yet employees seem to be looking for a quality of life that encompasses more than work. In his article "Corporate Soul" (American Way magazine, November, 1995) writer Jim Morrison quotes Tom Chappell, president of Tom's of Maine and the author of the 1993 bestseller "The Soul of a Business" as saying, "We're in an age in which a lot of people are looking for more meaning out of not just their personal lives, but their work lives."

Humanizing the workplace: A logical goal. …

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