I stumbled into Human Resources. Prior to my Human Resources career, I had very little understanding of what “HR people” did. As the department of “NO,” I saw HR as a group of people isolated from core organizational goals. As a “siloed” department, I saw a group of people working hard to process paperwork, pacify disgruntled employees, and fix payroll and benefits mistakes. What a misunderstanding!
Let us rewind…I started my career as a high school Social Studies Teacher. For ten years, I taught courses ranging from English as a Second Language United States History to Advanced Place United States Government. To say I loved it would be an understatement. I enjoyed developing student minds to think critically. I enjoyed leading other teachers in my department as well as facilitating workshops for new and seasoned teachers. However, disgruntlement and frustration began to surface. It never centered around students. Rather, it revolved around bureaucracies, unions, and governmental pressures. At the time, these “disgruntlements” failed to focus upon preparing students for life-long success. As these “push factors” mounted, “pull factors” surfaced.
Around this time, a friend of mine, David, operated a company called Home Care by Black Stone. Now, in full disclosure, my family had a been instrumental in starting this company, so I had the opportunity to get to know him. Prior to the summer of 2010, David reached out to me wondering how he could leverage learning and development to set his company apart. With ongoing growth and change, leadership development was a paramount concern. The task presented to me was to develop a learning culture highlighting leadership and management development. Off we went designing what we called “Black Stone University.” I enjoyed the work. Studying how to develop a learning culture, meeting with internal and external stakeholders, and presenting model after model to the leadership team, was an amazing experience. After fine-tuning our approach, we began rolling out learning opportunities.
The Fall of 2010 brought a crossroads. I was still teaching, and I was working a side hustle designing Black Stone University. The “push” of leaving education and the “pull” of entering the corporate world continued. It became apparent that I needed to decide if I would pivot and begin a new career. Finally, in February 2011, David and I spoke about bringing me onboard as a full-time employee. The job title would be “Manager of Professional Development.” I did not see this new career as being in Human Resources. Rather, it was a training and development job.
The final months of teaching were bittersweet as anxiety of leaving a comfortable setting and entering the unknown surfaced. That summer, the “switch” to healthcare occurred. Those early days were confusing as there was not enough work to do. Often, I wondered “what am I doing?” As a new role, it required finding value-add activities. Training and development efforts began centering around customer service. New projects surfaced such as onboarding new employees, creating hiring manuals, and learning about home care. Within a few months, though, things changed. A large acquisition took place, and I my boss asked me to project manage the integration. This required working with teams from both entities to ensure a successful integration. This project opened the doors to learn about and develop programs to onboard, hire, resolve conflicts, manage change, define, and explain culture, et cetera. I was now in a full-fledged Human Resources role! As the role evolved, we decided to cast a vision for what we wanted the HR function to be. My new title became Chief Talent Officer. Our focus was to better connect the “people” function to overall business goals. No longer did I see HR as the department of “no” or just a transactional cost center. Rather, I learned that HR is a core business partner helping operational, finance, IT, and other business functions to better connect these functions with great people. Sometimes it means finding great people. Other times it means developing great people. Often it means keeping great people.
I cannot believe it…this is really Human Resources!
Now, I lead Brixey & Meyer’s internal HR function and its external HR Practice Line. Each day I get to interact with and help amazing people. Whether it is creating greater clarity with defined policies and processes, working with teams to better equip them to lead, or talking through complex employment issues, it is a joy to help people unleash their potential.
I appreciate the many opportunities people gave me to try new things, fail, learn, and be a part of exciting initiatives. Along the way, I met great people, who have become friends. It did take some initial “pushes” and “pulls’ to stumble into HR, but I am grateful for the people, who mentored and coached me.
Need assistance with addressing short and long term HR needs for your business? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will address them proactively.
Disclaimer: This blog is not legal advice, but merely informed opinion or general information meant for no particular purpose. Issues addressed in this blog often implicate federal, state, and local labor and employment laws. This blog is not intended as a substitute for legal advice. Readers should consult labor and employment counsel to determine whether their particular policies, procedures, decisions, or courses of action comply with such laws.