When a friend referred to me as the ‘HR Bitch’ some years ago I laughed. I would occasionally divulge stories of life at work, so for this particular group of friends the nickname stuck. The result being that I often refer to myself as the HR Bitch when talking with clients.
I suppose it’s the way I say it. Generally, with a giggle. The humour element of the statement is important. I prefer to lighten the mood wherever possible; I know even in complicated situations a smile goes a long way.
Loving to connect with people and making sure everyone is happy is one of my key values. From a work perspective I have my feet in both camps – that of the employer and the employee. Finding solutions that fit and communicating the reasoning behind decisions is a key aspect of my role.
The ‘bitch’ element is my willingness to confront difficult situations, provided there is evidence and process behind them. As a professional, I rely on statistics and the information I have. That is what makes decisions. When push comes to shove, I remove the emotions and manage any bias, basing the outcome on cold hard facts.
In my early career I remember having to fire an employee with 7 years’ service for taking a loaf of bread. I found this process extremely tough. I explained to him that if each of the 100 employees took a loaf of bread every day the profits would dissipate and so would job security. He left the meeting understanding and apologetic, and I learnt an early lesson in how reasoning, communicating and gaining clarity is important. I felt like a bitch because it was so minor, I felt empathy, but also knew the outcome was fair.
Developing working relationships is important, I ensure I build camaraderie, will sing karaoke at the Christmas Party, have a few drinks and bond in a team. But, next week when there is a redundancy, disciplinary, restructure or grievance, my role takes precedence. It’s not being nasty or nice – I have a job to do. The role of HR Bitch returns.
This attitude has always earned me respect, I suppose people can look up to a bitch. This may help answer my conundrum that when moving on from previous roles various staff members have said, ‘take me with you’ or ‘contact me if there’s a suitable role’. I contemplated the only way I could keep these people as colleagues would be to be in direct competition with the other business… and that’s not my career choice!
Members of my Motivational Mornings group talk about my fast pace whilst working. HR Bitch also highlights my ‘get it done’ nature, and my need to resolve problems whilst ensuring processes are followed. I maintain ‘doing what’s right’ and offer advice based on my knowledge and experience. Prolonging tricky scenarios is unfair on individuals, however I also realise gaining a full picture and different perspectives are equally important. I listen and reflect, but if something needs doing I will accomplish it in a timely manner.
The friends who call me HR Bitch often ask advice on professional matters, in fact some of my clients have evolved through this network. The nickname is a label of my profession and describes the HR professional who does what it says on the tin. Being the HR Bitch is something I have worked hard to be.