The power of suggestion

I believe strongly in crowd sourcing, or as we use to call it back in the day: “sharing”. I’m so old.

I don’t think that we should hoard our ideas and knowledge – we should be willing to chat with those that are open and receptive.

Take book and movie suggestions – I like to ask around, but because I’m pretty particular about what I do and don’t like, I will generally fish around and ask about someone’s opinion on a book/movie that I really liked and one that I hated. Based on their response, I may or may not take any future suggestions seriously. There are a few people in my circle that are like this – if they tell me I have to read/see this…I don’t, because past experience taught me that their taste sucks…I mean… is different than mine.

And so, I put it out there on my blog asking for suggestions on what I should blog about. And the responses were overwhelming, but I’ve narrowed it down to a brief overview of how I came to be in HR. I say brief, not because I don’t feel like writing about it, but because it’s not really a long story.

Once upon a time, there was a young woman who was growing restless in her job as a laboratory analyst. To start with, she wasn’t entirely sure how as a Psych grad with absolutely no lab experience, she had found herself analyzing the weave patterns in paper samples. And then there was the important fact that she was analyzing the weave patterns in paper samples. Every. Single. Day.

And so an opportunity came up to assist with the university Co-op program and work with managers to interview young hopefuls and help bring them on-board. This seemed interesting and, more importantly, did not involve analyzing the weave pattern in paper samples.

By nature I like things to be organized and consistent, so it was a very short-time before I offered suggestions (read: took over) and started to try and enhance this program. If you couple this with the fact that I generally had an opinion on how things should be done and figured the best way to share this opinion was to be involved – it wasn’t long before I was chatting our HR person up.

One day, my manager/mentor suggested that I would be good in HR because I had common sense and wasn’t afraid to promote this. He knew I was looking to make a change and I respected his opinion. I was at the crossroad of “What the hell do I do next?” and “This is the rest of your life”. So, I decided to explore the idea of HR…took a few courses, low commitment. I figured that even if I decided not to pursue HR, at least the courses would help me be a better manager some day (I know, I know…how cute was I?!).

And so multiple courses later, I started applying for my first job in HR. Fortunately for me, what I saw as a disadvantage (being a late starter in the HR world) was an advantage in getting my foot in the door. I had a lot of work experience and was able to easily translate non-HR responsibilities into HR-related skills. And so I jumped in the world of HR.

Culture shock ensued.

I went from an almost all male technical environment to an almost all female service industry. I thought I had died and gone to some sort of high-school purgatory. That common sense I had – it didn’t really apply here. I had to learn quickly and daily how to navigate the minefield of emotions and politics of the office and of HR.

I learned more in those two years than in any course. Naturally, what I learned was what they would never teach you and certainly not the recommended courses of action. And I learned more from non-HR people…I learned from finance, from the operational managers, and most of all, from the employees. I learned that I would have colleagues, but not friends in the workplace. I learned that I was good at delivering hard messages. I learned that HR can be really lonely.

I think my transition into HR was made somewhat easier by the fact that I didn’t go into it with a vision of changing the world and I knew of the challenges that employees/managers can pose for HR. I once was one.

I have moved onto two different jobs since my first opportunity and I continue to learn. Mostly I am exploring what HR means to me (stay tuned for upcoming post on this when I’m a guest on a fellow blog…yes, shameless plug) and whether this is where I want to grow old. Not in my current job…definitely not, but even in HR.

And so now I find myself experienced in HR and far removed from the laboratory world where I was once. However, I am still handling recruiting and I spend many of my days analyzing the weave pattern in paper samples…or in HR-speak, reviewing CVs.

Full circle, baby. Full circle.

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