I am an introvert. And not just a little introverted either. Case in point: I’ve taken some variation of Myers-Briggs every year for a solid decade (I just like personality test), and I have always rated as either INTJ or2. I’ve gotten similar results in non-Meyers-Briggs assessments, so this isn’t a case of learning the test. Know thyself etc.INTP (lately trending INTP) in every single year I’ve taken the test. 2
So, being social takes a *lot* out of me (I’ll get to why I’m still a good fit for HR in a minute).
3. I am a child of the digital age.My idea of a great weekend involves a good (typically non-fiction) .PDF 3 and my thoughts. The idea of spending the weekend around a group of people being social for the sake of being social is about as appealing to me as sticking4. If it was *just* the tip and the alternative was 48 theoretical hours at a social gathering where I could never be alone I think I would at least consider the pencil sharpener option.the tip of my finger into an automatic pencil sharpener. 4
With that said, most people do not know that I am an introvert. I decided a few years ago that being introverted would negatively impact my professional career and hacked the very appearance of it out of my public persona with the ruthless efficiency that one would… well like this:
I try to have a sit down lunch with anyone I interact with professionally on5. This adds up to a lot of lunches over the course of a year.more than three occasions. 5 I grab a cup of coffee from the office break room every morning (even if I don’t want coffee) because it gives me an excuse to pass by everyone’s cubes and say hello. I never turn down an opportunity to make small talk, and unless there is a really good reason I at least make a brief appearance at all of the after-hours office functions.
I’ve met some great people this way and had many rewarding experiences, but as an introvert this all makes me very, *very* tired…
Please don’t get me wrong. I like people – a lot. I wouldn’t be in HR otherwise. But my personality often makes the nature of the work I do much more taxing than its actual difficulty level warrants. I understand the importance of being a people person, so I put a lot of effort into being a people person… but I’m not naturally a people person.
6. And we are to the point at last. …So like I was saying, I’d make a fantastic HR Manager. 6
Why, you ask?
Because I understand that the business side of being an HR professional is as important as the people side.
In HR we have a reputation as being people pleasers who don’t “get” the business side of things. We focus on putting out fires, being counselors, and completing administrative/transactional tasks while leaving strategic matters to the business. HR occasionally makes a process improvement at the margins, but mostly we react to and experience the world rather than evaluate and impact it.
Some common examples in the workplace:
1. Our performance metrics surrounding the way we compensate our employees are often based on subjective multipliers and arbitrary data points like years’ service. Rather that developing real metrics that measure an employee’s contributions (and compensating accordingly) we grab the lowest hanging fruit and base our analysis off of it.
2. Too often, as opposed to truly understanding the jobs we source for and developing screening criteria that assure the best candidates are the ones being considered for final round interviews, we instead settle for simply screening the candidates that can wordsmith their resumes well enough to game our applicant tracking systems. And so our analyses of the candidates we screen are often shallow because our understanding of the work they do is shallow – and this frequently includes instances where the jobs we’re screening have a large impact on the P&L.
3. Even when HR has good datasets and tools, it often doesn’t understand them (and as such doesn’t use what it has properly or at all). And so instead of being viewed as strategic partners, HR is often relegated to administrative/transactional tasks (and occasionally process improvements7. All too often we don’t even play a meaningful role in process improvement, instead hiring 3rd party vendors to step in and fix broken processes that we’re not knowledgeable enough to address internally.around the way we complete those tasks at the margins). 7
We hire employees into the function based on how much they like working with people/their energy level, when instead we should be hiring them based on their technical knowledge and business savvy. Accountants, Financial Analyst, Programmers, Doctors, and Lawyers are hired into their chosen professions based on what they know (and what they can do with what they know).
Conversely, far too often the criteria for beginning a career in HR is that you have a college degree (any concentration will do), and a high energy level. And so because the water level is so low here most of the top young talent8. In this controversial 2005 Fast Company Article the author says: “If you are an ambitious young thing newly graduated from a top college or B-school with your eye on a rewarding career in business, your first instinct is not to join the human-resources dance. (At the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, which arguably boasts the nation’s top faculty for organizational issues, just 1.2% of 2004 grads did so.) Says a management professor at one leading school: “The best and the brightest don’t go into HR.”doesn’t make the decision to go into HR. 8 This has the practical impact of damaging the HR brand and keeping even the most promising leaders in the field from having a realistic shot at the CEO role. If you’re a Business Unit Leader, CFO, COO, the Chief Counsel, or a Commercial SVP you may have a shot at the top job… but if you’re HR SVP you need not apply.
HR needs more INTPs and INTJs – or, speaking less broadly – HR needs more people that think about the world strategically, and fewer great counselors who can’t grasp the numbers and data that drive the businesses they support.
I’d make a fantastic HR Manager because I’m as good at the business side of things as the people side of things – even though I’m not a people person first…
Too many HR people are great with people and bad at the rest of the job.
Unfortunately, the only way HR will be able to do the rest of the job – the strategic business partner part – is if we find a way to bring more professionals into the field who can handle both the business and people side of things.