One of my favorite things to do is counsel young HR pros in the Mid-South area; it also happens to be one of my least favorite things to do. That’s only because as a passionate HR professional, who believes in following the rules and making workers happy, it surprises me how much information is not being taught to these young HR people. Each time I talk to one of them at some point they say “It’s not Rocket Science, it’s common sense.” And I always reply “HR ain’t for suckas either!”
Its seems that “HR is common sense” has become the battle cry for those folks that are in HR but are not equipped the handle the job – its justification for not being formerly educated. I’m convinced that good HR pros are so good because they make it seem easy. Common sense and easy are not the pillars of HR. Real HR is hard, with difficult decisions around every corner. You have to know how to make decisions based on laws as well as what’s right for the company. Sometimes those 2 things are correlated and sometimes they aren’t.
When it comes to SOME employee relations issues – yes, its common sense. Should you fire someone who is abusive at work? Should you fire a manager and subordinate who engage in an inappropriate sexual relationship? But what about an employee with a substance abuse problem? You may think, fire them right? Well you would be wrong. You may have to offer treatment options first. What about an employee that has lost a spouse or child and they are having a hard time adjusting to the loss? Do you fire them? Or let’s say an employee gets injured at home in an accident which was unrelated to work, but now the ability to perform the job is in question? Do you fire them too?
Common Problems Aren’t Always Common Sense
Look you are in HR or you want to be in HR – that’s cool. It’s a great profession. But if you think it’s easy then look around because the news is covered with difficult work related issues or ask a senior HR pro – you know, a mentor. Employees are our greatest asset and also our greatest liability. You never know what a person is dealing with and how that pressure could manifest itself in the workplace. There are all kinds of crazy going on at work – from violence to manipulation. You have to be smart and know your laws as well as a measure of common sense. So if you just think you can rely on your gut to get you by in HR…You need to stop – just stop, you don’t know what you’re doing.