HR, we’re not that awesome.

I was at an education conference recently where Dr. Howard Fuller was the keynote speaker. If you ever have a chance to hear Dr. Fuller speak, do it. He’s a tremendous presenter. In fact, he’s awesome. Speaking to educators, Dr. Fuller cautioned against the constant striving to be awesome. ‘It’s not about being awesome,’ he said, ‘it’s about being regular and getting awesome results.’ This is true in education, but it’s also true in HR.

HR friends, we are really not that awesome. Let’s be honest, being awesome takes a tremendous amount of time, energy and attention. And that time and attention has to be focused on ourselves to make ourselves awesome. That’s not the goal of good HR. Our goal should be to embrace our ordinariness, and channel it into awesome results. The work we do is what should be awesome.

What does being regular and getting awesome results look like? For a DOO like me, it looks like employees who have a seamless experience with their HRIS interface, no matter how much work I have to do on the back end. It looks like managers who are confident in doing annual reviews because they’ve been equipped know how to do it well. It’s an organizational culture where people talk about how their work explicitly ties to the organization’s mission on a regular basis. It’s low turnover because people have no reason to leave the company.

If you specialize in your area of HR, awesome results will look different. If you are a recruiter, making that perfect connection and seeing that both hiring managers and candidates have an amazing experience – even the candidates who aren’t selected – is an awesome result. Having clients reach back out with future needs and recommend you to others is an awesome result.

We don’t accomplish these things by being awesome. We do it by working hard. We make mistakes and pick ourselves back up and keep going. We give it our all, we keep learning, and we do the best we can.

Not only are we not awesome, our employees aren’t either. They are regular people doing their best and accomplishing amazing things. Your superstar employee? Probably isn’t innately more talented than her coworkers. She puts in more time, or she gives more focus, or in some other way just works better. Maybe she taps into the knowledge of others around her in a way that is unique. Maybe he reads up on work-related news on the weekends. Whatever it is, it’s something that is attainable to anyone else on the team.

As we engage our employees, as we think about what success looks like for them and for us, we need to remember that we don’t have to be awesome, and neither do they. We have to be invested in the outcome. We have to be willing to do the hard work that earns success. HR, we aren’t awesome. But we are delightfully regular people achieving some awe-inspiring results.

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