Want To Make A Change In HR? Speak Up!

by Michael Haberman on April 10, 2008 · 0 comments


A favorite author of mine, someone I consider an unofficial mentor, Harvey Mackay, wrote a weekly newsletter entitled “Find the courage to speak up and face challenges.” He was discussing worklife in general and had a number of good quotes. But it got me to thinking about the application to the field of human resources.

If you get together a group of HR people quite often they sit around bitching and moaning about how bad things are in their job, their company or in their field (actually an activity common to groups of employees in general.) They gripe about management not listening to them, not having “their place at the table”, not being proactive, laws being passed that are ridiculous or difficult to work with, etc. When asked why they are still there, or why management doesn’t listen to them, or what they did about the law being passed what you hear is mostly excuses. Typically the gripers don’t do or say anything about the situation.

Well if you find yourself in that group pay attention to Mackay’s words, from a story he relates, “…That inspired him to speak up whenever something didn’t work. He says it was the beginning of his realization that you have to make up your mind to speak up if you really want to change things.” He further advises “Chances are, others share your concern. It takes courage to speak up—perhaps there’s a fear of retaliation, concern about being labeled a complainer, or a reluctance to rock the boat. Stay calm, be logical and present your case in a clear and positive way. No whining! Waiting to see if things get better on their own really isn’t a reasonable strategy.”

If management doesn’t listen to you, ask why. Want a place at the table? Ask what has to be done to get there. Don’t like a law that is pending? Write your federal or state representative and express your informed, professional opinion. Not allowed to be proactive? Ignore it an do something about it. Courage!

In HR, when we deal with a sexual harassment situation we often ask the “victim” if they have said something to the harasser. We encourage people to do so, to stand up and say something. Yet quite often we do not stand up for ourselves. We adopt a victim mentality about HR not changing.

It is not hard to find examples of people exhibiting that courage. Find someone and use them as an example. One of my favorite bloggers, Kris Dunn of The HR Capitalist likes to rock the boat. Read him for a dose of courage or guidance on how to address something.

Poking the beast with a sharp stick to see if it is awake can be exhilarating every once in awhile! Give it a try. LOL

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