Jeremy Lucabaugh Jeremy Lucabaugh, PhD

“Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting others.” This is the common oxygen mask rule that flight attendants say while performing the safety demonstration. After all, how can you help others if you're passed out on the floor?

“Where is the HR for HR?” is a question I heard long ago that shares the concept. For a quick diagnosis of your department, look at how often you see new faces replacing those of your colleagues. Does your HR department suffer from equal or worse turnover than some of the “expected high turnover” departments?

Many of you don't even need this diagnosis. You can feel it every day. The call of duty requires you to represent both sides of the company, mediate both union and non-union complaints, coach, collect data, analyze, present, manage projects, manage people, sit in on HR, finance, operational, and other meetings, and so much more. This creates simultaneous pushing and pulling, and a taxing of your capacities.

Your natural desire to be the glue of human capital, planning, processes, structure, and culture can drain to the core. Not to mention keeping your finger on the pulse and driving recruiting, retention, health and wellness, onboarding, compensation and benefits, training and development, mentoring, career development, labor law compliance, strategic HRD, talent management, engagement, performance management, work-family issues, ethics and integrity, teams, and leadership development, all while navigating intense political pressures from all sides.

What if your own HR department benefited to the same degree from all of this attention, as the larger organization does?

After finishing up a coaching session with the president of a family-owned residential construction company, I had a short conversation with his wife. She detailed all the repairs needed to their own home that had gone unfinished for a number of years. She stated something to the effect of, “When you're in charge of building everyone else's homes, your own home is the last to get the attention it needs.”

The same is true for many HR departments. Here are some guiding starter questions:

• How will you identify what has been neglected in your own HR department? How does this impact the entire organization?

• Who cares about this as much as you do? Who WILL care about this as much as you do, once they have a clear understanding of
how prioritizing ABC for HR will positively impact XYZ for them?

• How will you address potential ‘fears’ of your advocates in becoming involved?

• What constraints will you remove for a) your HR team, and b) your advocates? How will you remove them?

• Who will help you map out desired outcomes and potential impacts?

• What role does humility play? What role does visioning play?

• Who on your team will you share these questions and answers with, and even add more?

• How will you keep this a priority?

Giving yourself ten minutes to answer a few of these questions will let you know if additional attention is needed, and if it’s important enough to make a priority.

If you’ve identified your HR department as needing some attention and the thought of this produces anxiety, consider the feeling normal. Take one step at a time, one question at a time, until excitement and momentum start to build. You’ve got what it takes, and you care enough to have made it this far. Remember “Although the bag does not inflate, oxygen is flowing to the mask.”
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