The man in my office door was an experienced, confident technician. An “I’m-always-right” kind of guy who frequently advised me on my failures.
“Not yours,” I told him, “just mine for the most part. What’s on your mind?”
So began one of my first days as the HR manager at a large plant. I had worked there for over two years in other roles, but now that I was in this one, I was going to see things in a whole new way.
I found my way into HR by managers opening doors and pushing me through them. They recognized something in what I do and how I work that was NOT in the mold or our previous generation of HR managers, but they took a chance on me. They thought my analytical style would be helpful in the challenges ahead.
But change is hard, and helping employees learn that HR is not a dumping ground was my first big task. I ran the risk of shutting down the flow of information, but what ended up happening is that the habitual complainers stopped seeking me out, and the people who wanted to be enabled starting showing up.
I call it “Bring me problems, but take them with you when you leave”.
Just to clarify, I get that there are complaints that require attention at full throttle. Safety issues, harassment, unfair treatment, and all those kind of things. But my predecessors were parental, and I would now have to train people to manage many of their own problems.
I’m collaborative, really I am. Just not when I don’t need to be.