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"I'm walking 100 tightropes all at once."

If you've never worked in HR, you just can't know what it's like to be an organization's therapist, coach, statistician, legal representative, and Designated Grown Up -- sometimes all by yourself. This is why I created the HR Swap, so the extraordinary humans who act as punching bags - who are expected to be soft and gentle, and yet still somehow hold up all the rules and laws - have somewhere to go to talk to their tribe.

In our Swap yesterday, we talked about how lonely it can be in HR, especially if you're a team of one or working virtually. Almost everyone, for example, gossips at work in some way or another. But can HR do that? Not outside its own walls. And when you have no team, who can you share the scandalizing gossip about What Happened in the Bathroom at the Holiday Party with? Not having a community at work, not feeling like you can be yourself, not having a best friend at work can have huge negative impacts on your engagement. And you certainly don't want a disengaged Designated Grown Up.

We talked about how you almost have to be extraverted to survive work in HR -- you have to find people energizing instead of draining. But the problem with most people who need help from HR is that they're not at their best. They're frustrated, confused, angry, offended, disturbed, or just in need of guidance. And as I say in my MBTI training: when we talk of recharging through extraversion and introversion, we have to think of regular, non-frustrating people. Because even extroverts will be drained by interacting with frustrating people.

And if it's not your people who are clobbering you, it can be yourself. So many HR professionals (including a high percentage of those on the call) hold themselves to such a high standard. We chose HR because we like to serve. We have seen, listened to, or diagnosed so many of the issues at our organizations, and we want to fix them. People expect us to fix them! In an effort to not let down the people we serve, we often forget to put our own masks on before helping others with theirs.

So the stress builds up. One of the participants (who works as a team of one in a rapidly growing global organization) said, "It's not that I'm walking on a tightrope, it's that I'm walking on 100 tightropes all at once."

If you resonate with anything here, please join us for the next Swap. We're here to listen -- especially if you know What Happened in the Bathroom!

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Sep 22, 2023
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