What's the Gov Got to Do With It?

What does the Gov. have to do with it? A lot if you are in human resources. Laws, regulations, policies, procedures, union master agreements abound; they are a fact of life every day in an HR Department. There is another annoying little local supplement to the Master Agreement but I won’t go there now J

As human resource professionals, we must know what applies and when. I was at a national VA Human Resource Conference in September where one on the presenters compared the laws etc. to walls of a building. I know from past experience that to "walk through the building" with a manager’s concern and stop when you hit a wall is very painful for all involved.

Our challenge as HR professionals is to find the doors and windows. Why? We cannot provide the service the organization expects or add the value we expect if we don’t. In some cases, what a manager wants to do absolutely cannot be done or the adverse repercussions of doing so are too significant. In these cases, we must advise accordingly. Not all cases are like that. There are differences between a course of action that violates a statute or law, one that requires a change in the way things have always been done, and one that breaks new ground. We need to be able to distinguish between these and others.

I received a call from a manager the other day saying she had a "bizillion" HR issues to talk about (yikes, I was only aware of a million of them!). She is a smart lady who can read and when she calls me to talk about her concerns, it is not for me to recite what the rules are, but to listen, talk through where she wants to go and work with her to identify possible approaches. Yes, there are days when I just want to say to a manager, "you can’t do that, just because." Yes, sometimes I do go there and then, in the very next instant, I am disappointed. I know that this approach will only get me so far and there is so much further I want to go personally and with my department. It is energizing to be engaged and it would be hard to return to work each day if I did not have the opportunity to do so.

So, why can’t my managers just can’t take "no" for an answer? They do, but it doesn’t come easy. It is easier for them to accept "no" when they know their concern has been looked at from every angle. It is easier when they are involved in the process. It is easier when they trust.

So what does the Gov. have to do with it? A lot, but not everything. It’s about making the most of each and every interaction, stepping up to the plate and working along side our managers to help them achieve their goals.