R-E-S-P-E-C-T. . . from HR

. . . Thank you Aretha Franklin, for calling out the most important guideline of HR- Respect!

Early in my career, I was working at a high school in Arizona.  I had the role of administrative assistant to one of the Vice Principals.  I loved my job!  I learned so much while I was in this role.  I was only 19 years old so I was barely older than some of the seniors.  This made for some interesting interactions and a lot of lessons learned.

One was during the aftermath of a fight involving a few kids. I overheard a conversation that has stuck with me to this day. One of the admins was speaking to one of the students involved.  I heard her raising her voice to him and telling him, “You need to respect me.  I am the adult and you need to listen to me.”  His response was, “Why would I (bleep) respect you if you don’t respect me?  You don’t think I deserve respect, but you won’t get my respect.”  She continued to yell at him and guess what? He yelled back. It escalated to the point that one of the Vice Principals had to get involved and calm everyone down.

Why do I tell this story?  It resonated and stays with me, as I said earlier. It has changed how I approach HR (and life).  It is all about respect.

Every time I have a conversation with an employee I try to keep this interaction in my head.  It reminds me how I want to be treated, with respect.  If I have to sit in on a termination, I try to keep in mind what it would feel like being on the other side of the table.  When I am talking to a new leader and walking through the best ways to coach and counsel the team, I keep the team in mind. When we are determining promotions, I want to respect everyone involved.

I want to always keep in mind how I would feel in every scenario, good and bad. Each one of us in HR must take this same lesson and apply it every day.  There are times when you will think, “I could not make this story up if I tried.”  That is when you especially need to remember to respect those involved. For those days when you want to put your head down on your desk or where you want to jump up and sing along. Play a little Aretha and find out what it means to her (and everyone else).