Friday, December 11, 2009

HR vs. Motherhood

My comment on Punk Rock HR’s recent blog post, “HR is not Your Mommy,” quickly got too long winded. Absolutely, as my June, 2009 post would attest, I agree HR professionals are not your hall monitor, party planner, or shrink. Or your mom, for that matter.

At the same time, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t areas of possible overlap between the worlds of “mom” and HR. Here are several.

Harder than you might think

In my carefree, childless days, I went to dinner with a friend’s family and raised my eyebrows at her preschool boys who spent most of the time scaling chairs, knocking over glasses and climbing under the table. “When I have kids,” I remember thinking, “they’ll never do that. They’ll be well-behaved.”

Oh yeah? Well, you know what? If it was easy to raise perfect kids, everyone would have perfect kids.

Being a mom is not all bedtime stories, time outs, and kissing skinned knees. Several years ago, it was learning disabilities, gangsta attitude, disgruntled calls that my son was performing parkour on the school roof. Now its preparing a new driver to hit the road rage ridden streets of DC and traversing fun subjects like local gang activity, safe sex, drugs, and college.

Similarly, people may assume HR is all bedtime stories (planning the holiday party), time-outs (policing employee behavior) and kissing skinned knees (playing nice-nice). Well, any of us that are in HR know it’s not that simple or that easy. Though we may have input in some of those areas, our true work lies in contributing to the life and continued success of the business.

Adaptability, Change

An infant is a different creature than a toddler, who is unlike a preschooler, an eight-year old, pre-teen, early teen, high schooler, or young adult. When your kids hit the turbulent adolescent years, your awesome baby-rocking skills are irrelevant. The world has moved on and a completely different--and hard-earned—skillset is imperative. Add to that that kids have different personalities and needs; what worked for Michael probably won’t work for Sara, and that parenting theories continually evolve. Thus parents are constantly learning and adapting to the coming and current environment.

Kind of reminds me of HR.

The skills and abilities needed at the HR Assistant level are not the same required as an HR Generalist, which again are very different from Chief HR
A lot of what worked in human resources in 1995 changed by 2005. The HR world has experienced even more change in the four years since, and will probably see as much or more change in the coming two.

More parallels

Then there’s management skill. Or leadership ability. Many moms have plenty of one or both.

Or step-parenting. Blending two families was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, personally or otherwise, and I could talk about it in lots of business and HR terms: mergers, acquisitions, onboarding, offboarding, ROI, strategic planning, vision and mission statements, etc.

The parallels go on, but the point is that both HR and Mommy-hood are harder than they may look from the outside. To do them well, or even competently, requires acquiring ever-shifting and evolving knowledge, attitudes and skills.

image by House of Sims


Laurie said...

I like this post for the personal touch (nice) and the honesty. I also like it for the critical look at the parallels. Interesting take. Most of all, GOOD JOB. xoxoxo

Tammy said...

There are many a day I leave my office thinking.... "aren't I done raising children yet?" - well thought out post.

thanks for making me think.

Krista Ogburn Francis said...

Thanks Laurie for the compliment and Tammy for the kind words!