Sometimes, the mere act of being present can make a world of difference in our workplace. This is especially true when it is unexpected, unscheduled, and done for positive reasons.
In my short tenure in my new position, it has become clear that my presence outside the administrative office is a new fangled concept to many. I’ve heard phrases like:
“HR has never been here before.”
“Why are you here? Is something wrong?”
“I hope you’re not here because someone is in trouble.”
“Wait, you’re the new HR Director and you came to see me?!?”
While this seems novel and funny (and yes it is!) it is more a testament to a fundamental disconnect so many in HR have from the daily realities that occur in the organization that we are hired to support. The only way HR can be relevant to an organization is to understand what being relevant in the organization means and what it looks like. In addition to visits to schools I’ve gone through a morning shift with a school bus driver, prepared and served food in a school cafeteria, and set-up chairs for a PTO meeting one morning before breakfast. Each one of these experiences has informed me and will allow me to make better decisions that will benefit the district, the employees, and ultimately, the students we serve.
One of the phrases I use when asked why I’m visiting is:
“I can’t do good work unless I know what is needed and that can’t happen by sitting in my office and waiting for things to come to me.”
It will take time, but I am confident that my presence will cease to be alarming some day! As I gain more knowledge and understanding of the operations in the schools and other student support services, this presence can expand our opportunities to ensure that our HR department provides positive and proactive support to everyone in our organization.