I remember the first time I realized this. It was many years ago and one of my greatest professional mentors pulled me aside and said, “Daphne, in your role, you simply don’t get to have a bad day.” I remember feeling kind of angry about that. Everybody gets a bad day here or there, right? But my argument was met with a simple fact that has stuck with me for a very long time. Although being held to such a high level of accountability might seem unfair, from the employee’s perspective it really does make sense. You see, when an employee needs help and they call the HR department for assistance, they deserve full attention, 100% responsiveness and a smile. This is regardless of what other crazy HR things are sure to be happening at the same time. To the employee, their matter is important or they likely wouldn’t be calling in the first place.
Of course, I am a human being and I do have bad days, but that mentor’s voice still speaks loudly to me. All too often Human Resource Professionals get a bad rap as being hard-nosed and sticklers. I don’t see that as helpful at all. Instead, Human Resources should always be focused on the employee as the Customer and HR customer service should always be exemplary – no exception. The customer must know that HR is consistently reliable, approachable and trustworthy. If they don’t, they will simply stop calling. It only takes one bad experience to make that happen.
Viewing every call as an opportunity to create trust, confidence and to really help make someone’s day has far reaching, positive implications. HR should be welcoming and needs to be involved early in potentially troublesome issues. Too many times, I have seen situations escalate that could have easily been extinguished with some coaching or diplomacy. Invariably, this happens when HR gets involved too late in the game. I try to remember that with every call, email or visitor. HR must be proactive about building rapport and strengthening a reputation of being a true resource.
All this extra service and responsibility might sound tiring to some, but for me it’s an exciting challenge. I wholeheartedly believe that we choose our attitude every day. Successful HR professionals choose to see employee concerns as opportunities to build relationships and trust and to create future fans of the department. In HR, every interaction impacts another and HR’s response can quickly determine the direction of that domino effect – positive or negative. Choosing to direct things positively will make a profound difference on your day and theirs.
Truth is, even though sometimes the calls seem to come at the most inopportune moments, it is always better to get the call than to not. Moral of the story – bad days are a luxury that in HR you just doesn’t get to have – at least not if you expect to be in the field for long. My advice to HR; put away the dark, formal suits and break out a smile and add a dash of silly. Welcome the issues with open arms and be glad that your Customers (the employees) are calling you!!