There is an old proverb about a shoemaker who was busy making shoes for his customers. However, he was so busy keeping them happy that his wife and children went shoeless. The moral of the story is that we should not neglect ourselves or those around us (our families or staffs) while we care for others.
We in Human Resources are responsible for counseling our managers, employees and students in all areas applicable to their success, as well as the success of our enterprise. But who counsels us? The answer, of course, is that we must not overlook ourselves and our staffs, especially when it comes to areas like personal development and stress management.
A personal development plan is one that does not specifically address the goals of the organization. Rather it’s a plan for an individual’s future growth in his or her chosen discipline. Ask yourself these questions to determine if your staff has the opportunity to develop both personally and professionally like others:
Does each HR staff member have a written long-term (5 year) development plan in place?
- Is that plan reviewed periodically with his or her manager and updated as necessary?
- Are HR managers held accountable for their staff’s development?
- Do all in HR participate in individual or group learning opportunities to further a personal interest or enhance their skills for a future position?
- Most importantly, is your HR staff aware of and have access to all of your organization’s development activities, such as a mentoring program, supervisor training, tuition assistance program, coaching and training courses?
You can see the point here: your staff deserves just as much attention to their personal development as any employee or manager in your organization. Make it a priority to address this with each staff member by setting up one-on-one sessions dedicated to development planning.
You know the scenario: you’re at the end of a hectic day, finishing up a project with a critical deadline, when a manager comes to you with an employee relations issue that can’t wait. You can feel your stress level rise as you force yourself to listen calmly and professionally, asking the right questions, counseling the manager and agreeing on follow-up steps. But in the back of your mind you can’t escape the urgent pressure of the unfinished project with a looming deadline.
This stressful work environment can hit HR even harder than other departments. Why? It’s because the very nature of our work sets up expectations for us to be role models, setting the standard for coping under pressure. Therefore HR is hit with a double whammy: our workload causes us stress and we are expected to listen to and counsel employees and students patiently and professionally.
Have you ever heeded your own advice on coping with stress? Have you watched a staff member struggle with a stressful work situation, and neglected to approach that person with appropriate guidance?
Step up and offer a friendly ear to your staff member in a non-judgmental atmosphere. Make sure he or she is aware of all company-provided resources, such as work life programs for balancing home and work responsibilities. Also, don’t forget that your EmployeeAssistance Program (EAP) offers Human Resources and Management Consultation in addition to personal counseling on work and home concerns.
Whether your HR department is two people or two hundred, make it a priority to take care of your own, and ensure that you and your staff aren’t shoeless like the Shoemaker’s Children. Remember: put some “sole” in those shoes, lace them up and give your staff all the support you give other employees!