Tension in the Room

I’ve noticed an odd trend over the last couple of years.  I wanted to share to see if anyone else has seen it, or if it is just me.

When you work in HR tech, you straddle the line between two functions.  I find myself in meetings with HR teams or with IT teams, though rarely are they mixed.  And the HR meetings are always, ALWAYS, more tense.

I don’t mean to say there is arguing or undue conflict.  Rather, it seems there is always some unspoken tension that hangs in the air.  The exception seems to be high level HR leaders who know how to command a room and run a meeting.  Their rooms are much less tense.

In contrast, I see IT meetings as being, in many cases, much more laid back.  Some number of people, each with a task to accomplish, and they quickly run through the list and talk about potential issues.  More often than not, the conflict is minimal.  When it does pop up, it is largely fact based and detail oriented.  (I’m not saying every IT meeting is this way, but a lot of them are.  Specifically the ones that are just IT.)

There are two differences between the groups I can see.  First is that, as you might imagine, the HR meetings are overwhelmingly made up of women, while the IT meetings are just as overwhelmingly made up of men.

Second, there seems to be a higher level of confidence on the IT side, as their work is in many ways fact based.  You know it or you don’t. HR work is more subjective, with as many different opinions on how succession planning should really be run as there are people running it.

To be clear, I’m not saying or implying that women are less confident or capable than men.  Nor am I saying that HR is somehow inferior.  But there is certainly a difference in the tone of the meetings, and a level of tension with HR that I just don’t see an much in IT.  Has anyone else seen this?  Or am I imagining it?

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