Masters of Fundamentals

GalleryIt can be incredibly seductive, living out in consultant land, to find a niche and focus on the sexy side of HR. Pulling out the buzzword bingo card HR and Recruiting pundits the world over pontificate about candidate personas, employee engagement, and optimization of this-that-and-everything. Culture this and strategy that.

This trickles down to the HR trenches of course. Unfortunately it leads to a sense of discontent amongst HR practitioners who are made to feel as if they’re missing out when their day-to-day seems only to be filled with employee data management (also known as data entry and filing) and the mailing out of ACA and COBRA notices.

There’s nobility, no matter what people tell you, in getting that stuff right.

Human resources practitioners must be masters of employment law, compensation, benefits, recruitment, employee relations and performance management. We draft handbooks, policies, job descriptions and job postings. We must be able to define the objectives of a performance management system, design and deliver the components, and train, guide and coach managers and employees on the process. We must demonstrate our competence whether conducting investigations, coaching managers or leading change initiatives.

And that’s just the baseline knowledge.

But…and here’s the key…we must handle all those things with a zero-defect error rate. Perfection. For it’s only when we get the basics down that we can effectively begin to discuss strategy and business alignment.

We must be proud of our experience, education and knowledge and apply human sensibility; in my estimation, common sense HR often simply calls for common sense solutions. And while we may think some of these HR basics are cut-and-dried or black-and-white, the sign of a great HR pro is remembering to not only ask “can” we do something…it also requires asking “should” we do something.

Working in human resources takes a lot of knowledge and a unique ability to apply it when the world seems to be crashing down; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

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image: Showtime’s ‘Masters of Sex”

Michael Sheen as Dr. William Masters and Lizzy Caplan as Virginia Johnson in Masters of Sex (Season 1 keyart) – Photo: Courtesy of SHOWTIME

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