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Recently, I was asked what made me chose a career in HR. Surprisingly I hadn’t given much thought about that in a while, so finally I responded simply with “To help people.” After I said it, it felt like a real generic answer to a huge question….how had I gotten into and why do I continue working in HR for a living?
A few days later, struggling to remember and really articulate the reason why I chose a career in HR, I was thumbing through the winter 2013 publication put out by the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI) and this quote caught my eye “As an HR person, you really need to be flexible. You have to realize that uncertainty is going to be a given, and you have to be really curious about people.”
In the article “Remembering the Human Side of HR,” HRCI recaps an interview with Paul Smith, SPHR Director of HR & Operations for Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission that was broadcasted on the internet talk radio show DriveThruHR. While I was reading through the dialogue it hit me that I chose HR for the human side of the occupation. I’ve always had a genuine interest in the variety of personalities, interactions, reactions, polices, interpretations, experiences of people, in short a general curiosity about people and a desire to help them during their employment life at an organization.
As Paul points out “within every organization there is a collection of people that we call a workforce—people with flaws and misunderstandings. There’s a dynamic to every person; there’s a dynamic to every workplace. I’m not saying we have to accept everything, but just understand that there are going to be differences.” He goes on to say “we have a tendency to see our co-workers sometimes not as human beings—and human beings naturally make mistakes, and sometimes we don’t always make the right choices or the right judgments. HR has an obligation to try and behave as the agent that can help put these things back into context. It’s being the objective person in the room, and it’s sort of like one of the core things about HR that we’re supposed to be doing.”
This article has a lot of interesting insight and helped me to realize that after 10 years working in an HR capacity at a variety of companies, I am still in it for the human side of HR. So I strongly urge before you answer the question “Why am I in HR” (or any occupation/career for that matter), really think carefully about what motivates you. What drives your passion? What makes it worth your while to get out of the bed in the morning? What do you think about on the drive to work in the morning? And don’t forget to remind yourself, we are all only HUMAN.
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