A post on the Management Craft blog took me down the proverbial rabbit hole to a blog post by Human Resources professional, Sanjay Lakhotia called People!! I Am Loving It. In it, he chuckles about aspiring HR candidates who say they’re interested in the work because they “love people,” and challenges their motives by offering this perspective:
“Would you do the following if you really loved these people?
– Fire people to improve the profitability of the company
– Force managers to reduce the ratings of people to meet the bell curve even if they have done a good job
– Make policies to stop 2% of the population from doing wrong things inconveniencing all others
– Make life miserable for anybody who quits
– Get people to work harder even if they do not like it (without paying overtime)”
Okay, I get where he’s coming from. HR is not a bed of roses; you have to do some tough stuff. You’re often caught between your responsibility to the company and your relationship with its employees. But, first of all, every job has its rough patches and unpleasantries.
Following the “don’t do HR if you love people” logic we could also say, for example:
Don’t be a teacher if you love people, because you (occasionally) have to
-Administer tests that you don’t believe in
-Deliver bad news to parents about their perfect offspring
Don’t be a doctor if you love people because you (occasionally) have to
-Stick needles in them
-Cut them open
-Prescribe drugs with nasty side-effects
-Refuse to treat people who aren’t covered by insurance
-Deliver bad news to families and loved ones
Don’t be a cop if you love people because you (occasionally) have to
-Write tickets on a quota
-Arrest and detain the innocent
-Fire your weapon
-Deal with politicians and bureaucrats who seem hell-bent on making your job impossible
-Deliver bad news to parents, families and loved ones
You get the picture. You can apply this “logic” to any job in any field.
The Extreme Leader’s opportunity, on the other hand, is to do the job because you love people. That’s what gives you the juice to fight to make the situation right for as many employees as possible by (going back to Sanjay’s HR scenario)
-Lobbying to keep those people that shouldn’t be fired
-Challenging the bell curve by showing a better way to measure and reward performance
-Ditto for the bad/ obsolete / damaging policies
-Help the people who quit by making their exit as smooth as possible, and learning what you can about their reasons for leaving
-Use your love and knowledge of people to inspire them to work harder, smarter, more creatively and with more fulfillment–and get them paid appropriately.
Maybe Sanjay isn’t looking for leaders, which is fine, I suppose.
But given the last line of his post,
“you may have to find some really good organisation, sorry I am not aware of any, where HR actually does things out of their love for people,”
maybe he should be.
What say you?