For whom should HR advocate?

Fake Dictionary, Dictionary definition of the word Advocacy.

For most of my long HR career in service industries, my colleagues and I believed our role to be an advocate for the employee. Those who spent their HR career in a collective bargaining environment may feel they advocate for the employer.

In Repurposing HR: From a cost center to a business accelerator, I highlight the role of Advocate as one of eight StopOvers on the RoadMap – the process for becoming a business leader rather than a service provider. Here’s how I explained it…

“The HR profession struggles to emerge from the “people person” image. Many of us went into the field because we liked working with people. The reality is that human resources plays two advocate roles, which often conflict:

  • HR is an advocate of the organization. Are the people decisions the best decisions to be made for the organization?
  • HR is also an advocate of the employees. Are we treating our employees consistently and fairly? If we are not, it will have a detrimental impact on the organization.”

Fast forward a couple years. Let’s make it really powerful – we are fast forwarding beyond a time in US business’ history for which we should have been exceedingly embarrassed and learned the hard way about organizational ethics – the scandals of Enron and Worldcom, which set the stage for the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act which, among other things, protected whistleblowers. (more…)

What does leadership vulnerability really mean?

dandelion-wallpaper-21991-22547-hd-wallpapersA friend told me a story that…well, I’m not sure if it made me mad or sad. She works for a very large, prestigious company with a strong reputation as a well-run organization. The leadership team has embraced the term “vulnerability” as their mantra (or buzzword of the week), and everyone is using it.

I believe, very adamantly, in leadership vulnerability. Leaders who come to the table believing that they must be right and must have all the answers are dangerous. The ability to allow oneself to be vulnerable in front of those who “follow,” is sometimes difficult, but so necessary.

When she told me how this new buzzword played out in her own department, I was astounded.  Her business unit leader held a two day offsite planning retreat where the leader played an inspirational video about how people must live life fully and eliminate stress.  To emphasize the point, the video told stories of those who did not manage the stress, and became ill or died. (more…)

Why Let Your Managers Blubber?

figure_no_talking_symbol_400_clr_11004 2Why do otherwise confident and caring people turn into blubbering idiots when delivering bad news?

John Grisham’s new book – Gray Mountain – set in 2008. Three Ivy League attorneys working for a large and prestigious law firm in Manhattan are called to a partner’s office and told they no longer have a job.  Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns collapsed and the economy has begun its rapid descent into the Great Recession. Everyone is scared, and everything is chaotic. (more…)