Can’t Stand the Heat HR Gets? You’ve Got Three Choices

We all know HR is a tough profession to deal with day in and day out.

Sure, it may not be the most difficult job in the world, but one has to believe that of the many corporate jobs, it is one that is rife with quite a bit of burnout. Not only that, HR doesn’t always have the most stellar reputation (whether that is deserved or not is a subject for another time, although I tend to think it is overblown).

From the e-mails I’ve received from HR people asking how they can possibly transition out of human resources into another specialty, while not scientific, has to be representative of some sentiment out there.

That being said, there are plenty of people out there who like HR and want to continue to push the envelope when it comes to HR. So if you find yourself overwhelmed with the heat, you’ve got a choice to make.

1. Deal with it

If you’ve never heard of the Heart Attack Grill, it is a restaurant in Arizona where the menu is filled with excessively unhealthy food including an 8,000 calorie cheeseburger. Their spokesman, a 575 pound, 29 year-old named Blair River, died last week.

Cynical people might think this (River’s death) is funny,” the restaurant’s founder Jon Basso told the Arizona Republic. “But people who knew him are crying their eyes out. There is a lot of mourning going on around here. You couldn’t have found a better person.”

I’m not celebrating the man’s death, but when the commercial on your website advises customers that one of the side effects of eating at your restaurant is “mild death,” it’s safe to say that pointing fingers is the last thing you should be doing. The restaurant set itself up for this one and needs to accept the heat that comes with the ironic death of a morbidly obese spokesman.

What does this have to do with HR? When you’re in a tough (and occasionally controversial) line of business, dealing with the fallout is part of the job description. I’ve had guys tell me they are going to lose their house because of me. Another asked me how I was going to explain her firing to her husband. It’s not easy, but it is part of the job.

2. Make it better

When the Miami Heat recently lost a close game to the Chicago Bulls, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said some in the locker room were moved to tears and Heat star Dwyane Wade said, “The Miami Heat are exactly what everyone wanted, losing games. The world is better now because the Heat is losing.”

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To which Yahoo Sports Blogger Kelly Dwyer rightly points out:

Oh, stop it. As if you didn’t have any idea last summer that NBA fans would react poorly to you flexing and preening for the cameras, promising championships three months before training camps even started.”

The solution for the Heat is to do better, win more games, and win a championship. Dealing with their lumps simply isn’t an option.

And for many in HR unsatisfied with simply dealing with it as is, making human resources a better business partner and a legitimate force within companies is not just a wild dream but the ultimate goal of their existence. Stepping up to volunteer, give time, take risks, and make themselves and the profession better is the only choice.

3. Go home

Phil Collins recently announced his pending retirement (after a short tour to support his latest album). While many media outlets have reported various reasons for him quitting the music business, the Los Angeles Times revealed that it was something a lot less interesting: To be full-time father to his two young sons on a daily basis.

There is such a stigma attached to quitting something you’ve worked on for so long but there shouldn’t be. For one, there are perfectly legitimate reasons to leave the realm of HR for something else entirely. It can be something like Collins deciding his family was going to be the top priority. It could be a loss of passion or interest. It can be a multitude of real reasons that HR folks shouldn’t be afraid of breaching.

Most of all, it is a perfectly legitimate response to the pressures of HR. And just like the rest of these, if done for the right reasons, any of them can be the right choice.


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