How to Boost your HR Credibility and Restore Your Swagger Today

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Have you read about HR in the media this year?

In case you missed it. Here is a sample of some of this year’s headlines featuring Human Resources.

This is Why People Hate HR.

Why Does Everyone Hate HR?

Your HR Department Hates You: How Corporate Overseers Exploit Workers.

If we are to believe these headlines, the HR discipline is a dinosaur lumbering its way to extinction.

If the headlines are true, HR Practitioners are sitting in their offices moldering away, grieving and in denial that it is game over.

If the headlines could predict the future, HR will be edged out of its niche in the people business by its cousins in Marketing and Communications in the way that Betamax lost out to VHS in the videotape format wars. There’s a little ancient tech history for you.

If the headlines are accurate, there is  a tsunami of “the sky is falling” hysteria threatening to engulf a beleaguered and careworn HR.

I must be fair. Obviously, these headlines sensationally scream the story of a struggling HR function but they actually tell a different story.

I urge you to go beyond the headlines and dive into the articles.

The authors do not hide from the problems (sometimes undeserved and sometimes self-inflicted) and the challenges shaking HR to the core.

Dig deeper and you will find they point to a way for HR to survive and thrive beyond the storm.

3 Do or Die HR Take-Aways

HR must:

  1. Put the ‘human’ before the ‘resources.
  2. Reconnect with what matters to businesses and people.
  3. Solve real problems.

Now is the time for HR to take action. In an earlier post from The HR Rabbit Hole (The Savvy HR’s Guide to Creating Remarkable Value), I ended with this Call to Action.

“The next chapters of HR’s story are being written.
What will you write?”

It is only right and fair that I respond to this question too.

Hidden inside the uncomfortable realisation that sitting tight and playing safe is the high risk option; lies opportunities for the taking.

At Aquarius our quest is to transform HR’s relevance. It is an audacious grizzly-sized goal and we wouldn’t want it any tamer.

Our weapon of choice for our quest is Creative HR. WHUUT?

 What is Creative HR?

HR + Marketing = Creative HR

  • Creative HR inhabits the sweet spot at the intersection of HR, Marketing and Communications; with a respectful hat tip to our friends in Public Relations.
  • Creative HR is a Mixologist’s delight of uncommon connections blended together in a cocktail of fresh ideas that tweak tradition and deliver results.
  • Creative HR is a collage of concepts and souvenirs from cross-discipline adventuring; brought together to form a one discipline approach for meaningful transformations and value through human connections.

How to Identify the Creative HR Tribe

Imagine this. There is a noisy party happening next door.

You hear the sound of dance music and laughter drifting towards you – pulling you in.

The smell of unusual yet delicious food flows over the fence, advertising the lively gathering in your neighbour’s backyard.

You leave the quiet stability of your house, marching out your door with righteous indignation. They are disturbing the peace.

You bang on your neighbour’s front door.

The door opens.
The music is louder. The party is in full swing.

You see a crowd of people focused on the serious business of talking and connecting. Oh my goodness, they are…

Image source: Antigua Carnival 2015

…having fun!!

You have a choice.  Either call the Status Quo Police or join the revelers in the party.
What will you do?

Will You Join Us?

1. We are the deliberate disturbers of the status quo, challengers of the ‘conventional’ and questioners of ‘accepted’ HR wisdom. “Rules should be questioned, tested, reviewed over time and broken if they are not law or commandment.” Jeffrey Hayzlett, Think Big, Act Bigger.

2. We are dedicated to finding solutions that tweak tradition, uplift and transform.

3. We are not ‘experts’ nor do we aspire to be – “an expert is a man [or woman] who has stopped thinking…” Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect, Interior Designer, Writer, and Educator,

4. We see HR as community of difference makers that creatively crafts meaningful success through human value.

5. We don’t take ourselves seriously; but we are serious about the business of human value creation.

6. We are recognisable by our “Devotion to Inquisitiveness… Curiosity is the truth and the way of creative living. Curiosity is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end.” Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic.

7. What we create isn’t for everyone. That’s OK! Marmite Principle rules apply.

“The Marmite Principle”

8. We are cross-discipline adventurers, foraging in various subject areas and exploring other business disciplines in search of truffles of inspiration and interesting talented people with whom to collaborate.

9. We are dot-connectors, knowledge-sharers, adaptive shape-shifters. Oh yes, shape-shifting is practically a mandatory requirement – occasionally T-shaped and sometimes Comb-shaped.

10. We follow the path of the storytellers, collaborating beyond the transactional level – going out of our way to understand individuals, culture and brand personalities on an emotional level so we can better serve and make our work matter.

11.We take an artisan approach to our work. Inspired by skilled crafts people, we reject the cookie cutter in favour of a bespoke style – customised to suit needs and help fulfill aspirations.

12. You can find us in doing work in the gig-economy and in unexpected niches – corporate, social entrepreneurship, start up. You only need to look a little closer.

Over to You

Go on give Creative HR a go and put some swagger in your HR. You might actually be surprised at  the ‘Swaggerific’ powers of Creative HR.

The next chapters of HR’s story are being written. Where will it all end? I can’t say for sure. But the HR stew pot is bubbling and in it there is every ingredient for a rich and tasty experience.

What HR recipe will you write?

How will you:

  • Put the ‘human’ before the ‘resources?
  • Reconnect with what matters to businesses and people?
  • Solve real problems?
  • Create meaning and make a difference?

So how fly is your HR Swagger?

This article was originally posted in the blog The HR Rabbit Hole 25 October 2015.

Nicole is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Aquarius Human Resources Consulting Ltd. Passionate about HR as Art, she is an advocate of Creative HR. Connect via Twitter @AquariusHRLtd.

Views: 388

Comment by Katrina Kibben on November 4, 2015 at 9:44am

I'm with you - I dream of the day that HR doesn't have such a PR problem. Inevitably dealing with so many people, I think they'll always have a big of a reputation but the how is what will make them stand out.

Another great post - thank you!

Comment by Nicole Antonio-Gadsdon on November 4, 2015 at 10:25am

I'm really feeling your Martin Luther King vibe - "I have a dream..." for HR.  This may sound crazy but I think its a case of HR mindset focus. Not focusing on being 'liked' but focusing instead on dominating in our niche as HR - human value creation. No other function is positioned to do this as well as HR (no offense Marketing and PR cousins ;-) ) . Then we will be rocking a fly HR Swagger :-)

  • Put the ‘human’ before the ‘resources
  • Reconnect with what matters to businesses and people
  • Solve real problems
  • Create meaning and make a difference
Comment by Katrina Kibben on November 4, 2015 at 1:16pm

Girl - preach. Yes, yes, YES. Love all of this. 

How would you coach a team who doesn't quite know how to shift the mindset? 

Comment by Nicole Antonio-Gadsdon on November 4, 2015 at 2:06pm

Here's my 2 pence worth. Enjoy...

If you in a start-up or business opening situation you are lucky - clean slate. BUT if you are working with and leading an existing team a bit more challenging but not impossible. Here are some of my swaggeriffic moves tested on the battlefield :-)

1. Redefine HR - Make it sexy - make it epic! HR is the Alpha and the Omega of the employment relationship. The Guardians of the Employer Brand. The Objective Presence in the organisation - not on the side of management nor on the side of employees; but on the side of what is right for the business. Fly that flag - tell everybody.

2. Set the purpose of HR in your given context - big picture stretching stuff. For the love of all that is sacred - avoid the low hanging fruit. Aim low ...well you know the rest. Document!

3. Lead the team in thinking and answering the question: What pain(s) does HR solve? Document! I was listening to a Jonny Naster Hack the Entrepreneur podcast - one of his guests said "better to be a painkiller that a vitamin". Vitamins are optional nice to takes. HR is not optional - period!

4. Lead the team in answering the question: What aspirations does HR help the organisation achieve? Document!

5. As HR leader what are the aspirations of each individual member of your team and how will you help them achieve it and what they need to do to help themselves. Document / Personal Contract!

6. As HR leader you are responsible for keeping all obstacles and devilish distractions away from your team doing this work (politricks, tasty tempting low hanging fruit etc). Be ready to defend your team from all foes!

7. Get respect! Anything - I mean anything - document, advice, policy that comes out of HR must - meet the 4 point criteria (see bullet points above). Hold everyone accountable. No compromises on values/ethics! No free passes!

8. Reward like you are Oprah - Incentives: Liberal and regular distribution of chocolates, wine, thank you notes, cupcakes, whatever you can and consistently for the right behaviour, output or mindset even if level of results not there as yet.

9. Jokes and Laughter - best tonic. HR is crazy, funny but important work.

10. Repeat whole process regularly.

Comment by Nicole Antonio-Gadsdon on November 4, 2015 at 2:14pm  Get in the spirit with "Differentology"

Comment by Matt Charney on November 5, 2015 at 7:36am

I've found the best way to find the creative HR crowd is generally by lighting a J up at a SHRM, ERE or HR Tech event. They always find you...and that's how I've made some of my closest friends in the business.

Comment by Nicole Antonio-Gadsdon on November 5, 2015 at 8:10am

Matt! You put the 'swag' in SWAGGER!  That's a B-A move :-) That ought to do it. Katrina K was all Martin Luther King and you now bring the Malcolm X :-) Here's to disturbing the HR status quo - by any means necessary.

Comment by Katrina Kibben on November 5, 2015 at 11:19am

That's an interesting but very accurate way to describe our duo.... 

Comment by Nicole Antonio-Gadsdon on November 5, 2015 at 11:27am

Ahhh! Both 'rebelutionary' styles and something in between are needed. :-)


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