HR, It’s Time to Get an Attitude


Attitude is not about being aggressive or obnoxious. It is about being competent, taking a stand when you have the information and the facts, and not backing down. It sounds relatively simple, but it is difficult for HR practitioners when you have people all day long pressing you to move their agenda instead of doing what is best for your business and your people.

Other functions including Finance, Operations, and Technology have been doing this for yrs. standing up with data and facts to support their cause. When they use data, it is well received and almost always expected. For some in HR this has been a pain point using data and speaking out with authority.

Data analytics has become a major part of everything we do, and not just in HR.  It has become critical to be able to ‘back up’ our statements with credibility. To take a step forward, many businesses are doing predictive analytics - not just saying ‘this is what happened in the past’, but saying ‘we can make decisions on the future using this data’ – capturing data and using it in a way that helps you move forward. We need to stop measuring things that don’t add value anymore. HR must catch up to the times, and right now, it is a runaway freight train. Utilizing data, synthesizing it down to actionable plans, and acting on those will lead to success. When done properly it becomes the power that HR craves and needs to be effective.

So why is this an issue? Is it a Male/Female thing? Many would argue that when a male executive stands up and speaks out it is taken as being assertive and proactive. When a female exec stands up it is taken as brash, aggressive and yes sometimes called having an “Attitude”. There are lots of studies out there on this. Even discussions in many business books around female power dynamics. We know in HR more than half of all executives and staff are female. So, one might connect the dots and point to this as a concern or even an excuse.

As a white male HR leader that has surpassed an AARP qualifying age, I may be the minority in this conversation. I have personally had leadership push back and fail to take many of my suggestions and input seriously over the years. However, I have been persistent in my approach, especially during my decade and a half running HR functions across three different industries. Yes, respect is earned and sometimes comes at a price too. That is a discussion for another day. The important thing is that over time HR leadership can earn that respect regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation or any other physical or visual attribute.

I believe that I am not the outlier, just an example of what can occur when HR gets an Attitude. So, my message today is to get your “Attitude adjusted”. Be bold, proactive and get your facts behind you.

I guarantee if you do some great things can happen for you and your team!



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