If you go to an HR conference or read articles about human resources (even the ones that I’ve written) you might get the idea that HR is full of exciting planning meetings, coaching managers, and designing strategy for succession planning.

And that stuff does happen. For sure. But, the day to day–especially for generalists, employee relations, and HR departments of one or two–that’s not what it looks like.

HR Guru Robin Schooling wrote about the difference between “Conference” HR and “Real World” HR and she summed it up pretty well. Here’s my favorite example:

Conference HR: “The Future of Work is NOW!” Real World HR: “Someone is smearing feces on the walls of the men’s restroom and we’re unsure how to go about investigating this…”

This is the reality. And it’s the day-to-day. My favorite personal story is the woman who came to me, upset that she had been fired. She wanted to sue. Why, you may ask, had she been fired? She sent nude pictures of herself to her coworkers. I explained that I would back up her manager here and she had no grounds for a lawsuit. But, she protested, the pictures were professionally done! (I admit that I didn’t ask if her coworkers of different races, gender, or age were allowed to send nude photos without consequence, because I made an assumption that they did not.)

To keep reading, click here: What Real HR Looks Like

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6 thoughts on “What Real HR Looks Like

  1. Amen! Everyday HR is dealing with all the picky, petty, boring, mind-numbing issues that go along with a group of diverse individuals working together with occasional flashes of excitement (i.e. seminars that serve really good lunch!)

  2. Can we make this article required reading for every college student/employee/manager who has said “I want to be in HR because I LOVE people”??? My standard response to this statement (said very tongue in cheek) is Well, in 3 months you will hate everyone…

    1. For real! If you love working with people, you should get a job in hospitality or social work. After a dozen people demand that you tell them which health plan to choose, then complain about healthcare, and don’t listen to anything you say, well, you’ll realize that you don’t love people as much as you thought.

      1. Where on earth did you get the idea that hospitality or social work is any different? Any job that involves dealing with the public means dealing with people whose biggest problem is themselves.

    1. Also – the way this page displays in the browser tab is “What Real HR Looks Like – Evil” 😀

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