Human Resources without any humans…

Right now my role is as HR lead on a bid team. I’m a director of HR without any humans.

Initially it was quite liberating – developing plans and ideas without the day to day reality of people. I worked in a small team and my interaction was mainly as colleague and not as counsellor, coach, advisor.

About 6 weeks in I had a update meeting with the bid director to look at my plans and review where we were going etc. we had 2 hours scheduled in so it was a meaty session. We didn’t even look at my plans. What we did was one of my favourite things in HR we talked through the team, the challenges she was facing, the people issues she had. I was critical friend, honest counsellor and coach. I helped her work through some of her trickier people issues using skills I had developed and learned. And it felt great.

Afterwards I was buoyant, energised and raring to go. But I went back into the rabbit hole that bid writing can sometimes be and lost a bit of that energy.

Last night, in the wee small hours when I was listening to himself and the dog snore breath I was thinking about my energy levels and why I was struggling right now and I remembered the meeting above. I miss people, I miss the human part of my role. I enjoy the work I’m doing – blank sheet of paper, encouraged to look at new ways of doing things, to coin a phrase from the CIPD Hack doing everything I can to chuck out the chintz. But I miss people. I miss the energy we get from each other, I miss helping my senior team move their thinking forward and being that check in place for them. I miss the relationship building. I’ve loved the words and having the time to build a vision but can’t wait until the new year when I can get back to doing.

What’s in a title?

<I’m working with an organisation in a traditional industry, working practices have been largely the same for years and the pace of change is often slow.  This isn’t due to a lack of desire – just that they actually do what they do quite well so wholesale change isn’t necessary.

However, because of this there is often a lack of curiosity and desire to modernise, move forward.  People in the industry joke that it’s about 15 years behind the rest of UK Plc in terms of the way they do things. This could be seen as a negative, as frustrating and tiresome and put on the too hard pile.  Or it could be seen as a challenge, an opportunity and something to really get my teeth into.  I’m leaning towards the latter (as you probably guessed) but am finding examples of the resistance a touch exasberating at times.

I was asked to put together an org structure for the HR team, its a fairly standard approach to HR,  a shared service centre and a business partner model working along side the operations on a day to day basis.  And this is where I hit my first hurdle.  Why HR Business Partner?  Is that just a fancy name for personnel manager or HR officer?  What are they partnering, oh no my  managers do that I don’t need a business partner…..etc etc

I explained the role, what they would be doing and whilst they accepted the role they still raised an eyebrow at the job title and it got me thinking.   I guess if I’m honest the job title is that as its the current recognised title for that sort of role within the HR community.  In order to attract people with the right skills, experience and expectation I need to have a job title that reflects what the role is and that people can recognise  and is familiar to them.  Or do I?

If I went for a more ‘traditional’ job title of HR officer or manager would it change the calibre of type of applicant I get?  Will they have a different skill set, a different expectation of what the role will involve?

What about you? If you’re looking for a job do you start with the job title or job content? Is the title important to you? To your colleagues?

There’s a school of thought that a job title opens doors – I need to be HR director to be seen as equivalent to the other directors, to help me be credible (erm no your actions and results make you credible but that’s a whole other blog best captured by HR Tinker recently here ).

Do I do more dynamic, innovative work by being the Head Honcho of People Stuff than I do being the Head of HR? Probably not. By do I get a different pool of candidates – maybe? What do you think?