Just be Authentic ... 

There’s a little wickedness that we see it in corporations quite often. Someone talks so right it’s hard to believe. You never see the real personality, you only see the corporate correct image, which is so sterile that it’s virtually impossible to relate to it in any positive emotional way. Practically, you could say it’s more of a hologram than an authentic managerial personality. Unfortunately, this is more common in Human Resources than we would like. It lacks the emotion and grace, there’s just process-correct thinking. It’s generally great, it just does a poor job of building trust. How do you have an HR department that has a human face? What about it?

To a large extent, it’s a personal brand problem or personal branding problem. We live in a civilization that loves success. Failures are virtually non-existent and not talked about (however, I have written about it). The small problem is that we all have periods where we are up and then we are down again. No one goes from success to success. It’s just that company culture shapes us, but we must not try to blend into the culture to the point where it becomes a completely imperfect copy. And no copy is authentic, it’s just a clone that will never live up to the original.

There are always two sides to admitting failure. On the one hand, it shows a certain weakness and vulnerability, because next time someone may take us down for failing once before, so it’s a threat this time too. On the other hand, it offers lessons and a certain humanity. No one has really experienced all success.

Acknowledging that something has failed, oddly enough, helps us build our authenticity because it’s trustworthy. People know that they’ve failed a lot too, so they appreciate when someone can bring their failure to light.

Further, a Human Resources pro can be authentic by leaving behind a list of generic advice on what to do in difficult situations. Listening properly, asking the right questions, and helping shape solutions is the right approach. And at all times, maintain a significant amount of privacy and don’t talk about it. Often the CEO has to brief, but often just a classically general announcement is enough and that the details will come when it’s done. And usually that’s enough to calm the situation.

Again - not exactly a comfortable situation for the HR manager. They have to spend time on it and may get the advice wrong. Or, more likely, steer them towards the wrong solution. However, it is only by making mistakes that one really learns and next time one can avoid these cliffs because one has experienced the situation and knows how to handle it correctly.

In general, it has to do with the fact that Human Resources must not be afraid to go to market with skin in the game. The company is constantly solving problems and looking for ways to move the company forward, how to unblock growth and how to deal more blows to the competition. Or at least not take so many blows from the competition. It’s just that the ideas are gradually dwindling and they keep coming from the same people. This is a moment for HR managers to engage in discussions and at the very least provoke others to start thinking about things from a different side.

No great idea was born right the first time, it took its time to mature perfectly and someone polished it to that perfection to make it bear marketing. And Human Resources has to go to market with skin in the game and start generating ideas on how to make the company’s business better, cheaper and how to win new customers. Or get more money out of existing ones without making them feel like the company is skinning them.

An authentic HR Manager doesn’t forget that he or she is an employee advocate. Mind you, I’m not saying that HR is a union in disguise, I’m just saying that HR management must also protect the interests of employees. When it comes to difficult discussions at the top management level, employees are often forgotten because money comes first. And we need to be reminded at the right moment that money is fine, but without employees, it certainly won’t work.

Being authentic isn’t automatic, it takes time for a department to build a position where it is universally trusted and no one is afraid to come and proactively ask for help and advice. But when that happens, it starts to work.