I don’t know about you, but I have always been a huge Dr. Suess fan !! When I was young I remember my mom reading me Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish among many others. He was able to rhyme and bring things to life in an incredibly simple way. I’m sure his books helped me learn to read as he has for thousands of others.
He also opened my imagination. If he didn’t have a word that others traditionally used, he made them up. The worlds he created were colorful and also believable. It didn’t seem impossible that an entire civilization could live on the bloom of a flower, or that an elephant could hear them. He was a contrarian who defined new rules and did it in a way to educate people. He was also an activist who wanted to bring messages like the materialism of Christmas or the destruction of our environment to people’s attention. He did in a timeless way so that generations could continue to learn from his tales.
My absolute fave by far was The Lorax. Here is a story that resonates with me even today in the world of HR. You see, when the Lorax spoke he said, “I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees.” He spoke up for them because they could not speak for themselves. The trees were being destroyed so that a company could make Thneeds for people to wear and everyone wanted them. The trees were being harvested left and right and it didn’t matter that they were disappearing completely because the company had to have the material to make their product.
The “trees” we have in our organizations are our employees. I’m not saying we’re destroying them, or using them to make sure the company moves forward at all costs. But we need to be the ones who speak for them. You see, if you ask Management who HR represents, they would say “Management.” And, if you asked employees who HR represent, they’d say . . . “Management.” So, how do they get a voice?
It’s time for us to realize that we are there for all people – both Management and employees. We have to be the voice of reason that listens to all sides of situations and act as the bridge between those sides to bring resolution. I get concerned that we often sway to the Management side only because we feel that’s where HR “should” be. It’s true that we should look out for the best interest of our organizations, but that should include all employees !!
As this new year starts, take some time to evaluate who you spend the most time with. Are you balanced and work with all staff? If not, what’s keeping you from doing that? We need to be the Lorax in our company. We need to stand up and be vocal about our people. By doing this we can help drive our culture and make sure that people aren’t silent.
So, as you start this week keep this quote in front of you – ” I am HR and I speak for employees !! ” You’ll be glad you do !!