"Assist" is the Operative Word

I think I ran a stop sign on my way in to work. Relax, it was on medical center grounds, the place was empty and the speed limit was 20 mph. I think I did but am not totally sure. I may have stopped. I just do not remember stopping. I was too busy thinking.

When employees need assistance, HR is there to assist.  To assist. So, what happens when the burden of an employee's responsibility is shifted to the shoulders of an HR staff member? For one, patience can be tested and frustrations can surface for all involved.  Ahhh, people will say, "that's just the way things are."  Ok, but does it have to be? I am thinking and here's how it's going so far . . . .

In HR, we are here to serve, right? I have said it, others have said it. In a serving role, we assist with locating addresses and completing forms. In a serving role, we answer questions and alleviate some fears. In a serving role, we classify positions, we set pay, we process performance awards, we recruit for positions. In a serving role, we do what we can to do what people ask us to do. We need 3 days notice, you give us 1 - we'll get it done. Of course we'll get it done, we are here to serve, right? 

Well, what if that is not right? What if we are not here to serve but to provide a service. We have a responsibility to provide a service and shouldn't those using our services have a responsibility too? Shouldn't we hold them to that?

  • Do you want to sign up for benefits on-line? We can help but you are responsible for setting up your on-line account first and bringing your password.
  • Want our undivided attention, free from distractions? You are responsible for making an appointment so we can set the time aside just for you.
  • Entering your background information? You are responsible for having your reference addresses available. We will provide the yellow pages but we will not look it up for you and no, we cannot tell you where you worked from 1992 - 1994.

Can you say doormat? I do say this tongue in cheek but there are days when I have to wonder and, I am. Actually, I am doing more than wondering, I am thinking. I am thinking about reactivity and the time it takes away from planful actions, attention to detail and accuracy. I am thinking about trying to please everyone and not pleasing anyone. You can go to reasonable, communicated expectations, user friendly processes for our customers but that does not quite get at it for me right now. You can go to the big picture role of HR but that does not quite get at it either. This less of an HR function distinction conversation and more of an appropriate role or a relationship question. I am thinking about customer service. I am thinking about the right time, and the wrong time, to hold customers accountable. I am thinking about when it is ok, and right to say, "no, we are not able to assist you in this way."

I am thinking that HR is not here merely to serve and to support. We have a job to do; we have a service to provide. And I need everyone (in and out of HR) lined up and heading in the same direction for us to be able to provide it well.

I am thinking I need to set a new direction. I am thinking I need to articulate an appropriate role for HR. What do you think?