A great pleasure to be asked to contribute to the HR DIrector Blog. I’ve been an independent practitioner now for 16 months and having held “Head of…” posts I’ve never been an HRD. Nor wanted to be. And here’s why.
Some of my most admired professional contacts are HR Directors. Some of the most influential and helpful people in my career have been HR Directors. I am IN HR because of an HR Director.
I though, NEVER wanted to be an HR Director.
Now to some that might seem a bit odd. For something SO significant in my career and something I hold so highly in regard why would that not be the case?
Here’s why. And yes this is about me although I would like it to be something that many people reading this (who are or aren’t HRDs) to nod accordingly; wryly smile and maybe even tut slightly at my audacity.
Firstly, I am not good enough to be one. No false modesty here. I have specialised and centralised my ENTIRE career focus on being a development professional. That means I have let many Employment Law “must-knows” pass me by and more. I have participated in the construct of, but never actually built, an entire people strategy. I have built learning, talent, OD, and L&D strategies but never an entire people one. I have never studied or gained a Masters in HRM or equivalent. I do understand the varied range of HRD responsibilities and can do much of what isn’t people development. Simply put though, I am not good enough and here’s the second thing; I have never had the desire to learn the things to become one.
I am a tenacious learner and pride myself on being so dissatisfied with not knowing enough that I am spurred to learn with my every being. A direct career path to an HRD? Never appealed to me. Why? Here’s my bucket list of why.
Grievances; senior management recruitment; disciplinaries; collective bargaining agreements with the TUS; payroll modelling; Hay job evaluations; dealing with industrial disputes; recruitment policy formulation; compromise agreements; HR Information Systems; Pensions reforms; full benefits packages; locking horns with Finance Directors.
Some of this is – to be blunt – tedious but necessary in many cases. Most of it is incredibly sensitive, complex and challenging. Am I up to it? With guidance and support like most people, probably.
Yet SO excited and captivated was/am I by the development, change, psychology, technology and innovation side of the HR coin, that I came to the conclusion that whilst most HRDs do this stuff AS WELL AS all the other stuff, I simply wasn’t keen enough to cover that range.
So I deselected myself from exposure to that bucket list and went deep and headstrong into the “other” bucket list.
So that’s why I have never wanted to, be an HR Director.
Now, many of you may be reading this and thinking “how very dare he” and “the naive so-and-so“.
And that’s maybe the case and I may have missed out.
Here’s my third and final reason why though which wouldn’t change no matter how much I’d missed the point/lost the plot – I could never actually picture me being in that seat. At that table. In those meeting rooms. Supporting those HRDs I worked with? Sure. Knowing what a good, bad and brilliant HRD looked like? Pretty much. In the room driving/doing/being that? Nope. I guess that lack of my being in that seat was telling and a combination of the first 2 reasons but I just didn’t see me there – and therefore wasn’t driven towards being an HR Director. Or any Director in a corporate role.
My final thought though is a genuinely meant one about the amount of respect and professional regard I have for HRDs. I started with that list of things and I meant them, which is why I admire those who perform well as an HRD. I am glad someone wants to have that title and aspire to that role. Global, local; private, public, charity; small, medium, large; volatile, stable, creative; specialist, political, entrepreneurial.
So just because I haven’t ever been one, never likely will be one and ever wanted to be one doesn’t mean anything other than “it’s just not for me”. I am appreciative of those of you who are though, and I know sometimes you have a really hard time – more than most corporate Directors.
I guess I’d like to leave you with this thought.
I and many like me, value, regard and appreciate what you do. When you’re feeling a bit low after taking a battering from the CEO or the Union Rep or having to fire someone senior or dealing with a bereavement – we salute you.