HR is a funny business. The phrase I heard quite a bit when I first joined was, “part pastor, part parent.” And I suppose it was true in that situation. Many of us have lived in the world of HR as authority figure, confidant and organizational conscience. That job usually comes with being the compliance office and exclusions from “real business” talk. You don’t see a lot of priests invited to the war room, do you?
We aspire to be more. Words like partner, adviser or consultant are used, but they are intended to drive home the idea that we are part of the team, we are part of the action, and we are here to help. We are fam-i-lee. I got all my sisters and me.
In the last few years, I was fortunate enough to travel extensively outside the States, and found several cultures that really embraced this idea for everyone in the business, not just HR. We are all in this together, regardless of the department. The most striking experience was in Mexico. The front entrance of the production facility featured a banner that was created during a family picnic. All of the children were invited to put their handprints in paint on the banner and sign their names. The banner read, “Be safe at work. We’re waiting for you to come home.” I still get chills thinking about it. Fam-i-lee.
There is a term I learned on that trip. Carnal. No, not in the sense of being worldly or of impure thoughts or deeds. That’s a whole different kind of post. No, in Mexico carnal is used to denote someone who isn’t actually your brother (which would be “hermano” of course), but is the next best thing. A brother in all but blood relations. Like Pancho and Cisco up above, as close as you can get. Your carnal is the brother you have chosen. Fam-i-lee. There it is again.
The goal of real HR partnership isn’t the pastor/parent role. It’s the carnal. Or the carnala for the female HR pros. Being there by your side, being the person you would call on when you need something. A chosen companion.
So who’s your carnal?