Some of the finest human resources (HR) teams that I have worked on, for and/or directed, all had one thing in common: a person in charge that emphasized and exemplified the qualities of a leader. A consummate HR professional that embraced the essential purpose of HR—to serve our customers, our employees and those who are our partners in our success! To be successful in an HR position and role, you must start, first and foremost, by being a “people person.”

I have also worked for a few HR “professionals” that came nowhere near to that definition or personality. I’m sure that you too have encountered “bad” bosses regardless of your career, field or line of work. I am talking about the following types of poor behaviors…

Glory grabber-so insecure that they have to take all the credit for their team’s work and achievements, both publicly as well as covertly with their bosses in order to impress.

Ego maniac-has such a huge ego that they can’t be bothered with the minutia and have the need to micro-manage because they are “the only one with a brain that can do things right” (or so they say…).

Angry boss-(needed to retire years ago) this person is always in a bad mood, having a bad day or tired of working/having to do everyone’s job for them—whether actual or perceived. They keep harping on how they “are tired of the work, complaints, employees, problems and you bothering them!”

So, now that we’ve looked at the dark side of HR management, what exactly does it take to be a people person and thereby a resource for your customers? Always first on my list is “enjoy the work that you do!” I want to ask those terrible HR people that I’ve worked for in the past, “Why do you do this work if you don’t enjoy it? It has to feel like torture for you!? Even worse, it creates this perception or environment that HR under your lead is uncaring, unhelpful and just plain unhappy! Is that what you want to accomplish?”

On the opposite side is me. I am so fortunate! I love what I do! I can’t emphasize that enough. I’ve always known from somewhere in the back in my childhood and distant past, that I would be good in a job where I could help people to do better, thrive and enjoy their work and life more. I wanted people to know and understand that managing people doesn’t have to be a drudge, but can be challenging and exhilarating when you engage your staff and see the “ah ha!” light go on for that person when they understand and then excel. 

How did that feeling and appreciation for “helping” come about you might ask? It came from my upbringing. I was taught and learned at a very young age about pride in my work, helping and carrying my share of the load. My parents and grandmother(s) helped me to understand the basics of gaining satisfaction from my work. It came from two very basic and foundational principles, as follows: 1) do a job well and take pride in that job’s completion, and 2) embrace how accomplishing that job or work adds value to the family, your pride and sense of accomplishment, and everyone’s welfare! Those concepts have stuck with me for my entire life.

So, now, how do we take all of those components, and shape them into a vision of how and why HR must be a resource? First, by embracing the fact that the name of this field says it all—human resources—a resource is a place for help, tools, information and to gain insight on how to thrive. Secondly, the role of HR for employees and the company is to orient, culturalize, indoctrinate, train and offer benefits to employees that have value, are a match with their needs and that support compatibility, success and longevity. And lastly, HR is there to listen, solve problems, correct performance problems and redirect the efforts of both employees and managers in the goal of attaining a good match, minimizing business interruption and reducing overall costs.

Remember, from my lessons learned, if HR is uncaring and unapproachable, they have no value to your employees or your organization. They will serve no useful purpose and ultimately become obsolete and unproductive. I know in my heart, that even during times of challenge we must all take responsibility for those we serve and help in any and every way we can. HR is not a field for everyone, but it must be a resource for all!

HR Question of the month: Please send your HR questions and concerns, or share your thoughts on your human resources challenges via email to the following address. Send input to Your comments, questions or concerns will help determine the direction for my next month’s column and earn you a copy of my book. Include your mailing address when sending your responses.