Walking a Mile in HR’s Moccasins

I’m sure you’ve all heard the old Native American expression that says, “walk a mile in my moccasins and you will know my journey”. Or, maybe you’ve been asked to, “put yourself in my shoes” when trying to gain necessary perspective in a particular situation. Regardless of the context or usage, the general idea is that we can learn the trials and tribulations of something by actively performing a particular task. While I have always known this to be true, it has only been in the last few weeks that I’ve truly experienced this in a real-life, professional situation. I have been in and around the HR industry for nearly 23 years. I have worked with some of the most talented HR professionals in the business during my time with Hewitt Associates and a regional HRO provider. The clients that I’ve had the pleasure of serving have each taught me something along the way and for that I’m incredibly appreciative. I have consulted with Fortune 100 clients as well as the local Mom & Pop small business in an effort to make HR more efficient by leveraging technology. However, I have never in my career sat in the proverbial chair of HR and actually utilized those technologies myself — that is, until two months ago. And, yet, during an infinitesimally small window of 60 days, I have gained an even greater appreciation for HR because I’ve now had to walk in a mile in “their” shoes. A unique opportunity presented itself to me a few months ago when a client, for whom I was providing some HR Technology consulting, asked me to help with some broader HR activities. I very willingly accepted the challenge and began providing some over-the-shoulder consulting help in and around HR. I guess I must have done a decent job at this, because a few weeks later, the client asked if I could become their part-time, contract HR Director. Shortly after my openly questioning his sanity, I realized that this could be a great opportunity for me to put myself into the shoes of HR and actively apply my knowledge and consulting experience to some real-life situations. During this short time, I have been exposed to a payroll conversion, implementation of a new benefit administration system, filing new hires with the state, preparing EEO-1 reports, updating a handbook, and administering FMLA (note to self — I could have done without the FMLA experience!). Throughout each of these experiences, I had the opportunity to witness, first hand, how difficult the role of HR truly is and how the need for efficiency has never been greater. It has been an amazingly beneficial and humbling experience…and I’ve loved every minute of it. I have been blessed by the experience and feel that I’m better positioned to consult with clients today than I ever have been. I’ve not come close to walking a full mile in the HR moccasin, but I’m so incredibly thankful that I’m on this journey. I highly recommend it.

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