The Soul of the Company !!

This past week I was fortunate enough to lead a workshop I created on developing an HR Brand to an HR chapter. This was an attempt to differentiate from “employer brand” and “employment brand” which are both important. The focus of the workshop was to get HR to own who they are professionally and also within their organization.

Any time I get to speak to my peers, I get more Geeked than usual !! The ideas were flowing and the mood was light. People love to share and one of the exercises we did was intriguing. I asked the attendees to make a side-by-side comparison of how they viewed HR and how others viewed us.

Everyone jumped into the list, and it took the turn I expected. The “others” side of the list filled quickly, and the answers weren’t positive. In fact, one person even had to remind his table that they should at least come up with some answers on how HR viewed itself. Unfortunately, this breakout supported the approach of most people. We tend to think negatively initially even if that’s not who we are. Negative thoughts and situations surround us in the majority of our activities. You have to work on turning the tide so that this isn’t how you approach HR or life !!

To help everyone try this I asked people to list how HR viewed itself. And then it happened. One person shared, ” I think HR is the Soul of the Company !! ”

Her answer drew audible oohs and aahs. People truly enjoyed that perspective and it made me think. What if we WERE the soul of the company as HR?

SoulI think this makes sense because this has a deeper meaning and impact than culture. The “soul” of an organization should capture and embody what the company values. It is also appealing because every company’s soul is unique just as it’s people are.

Too often HR is seen as soulless and I’d love to see that turned around. The key to making this happen has to start with us personally. Senior management can’t bestow this upon us, and we shouldn’t look for them to do that. What should the soul of your company look like? It’s a bit conceptual, but there are a few factors you can consider.

First of all, you would be the “center” of all of the people activities and interactions in the company. You could assist people on having healthy communication that was consistent and productive. Many companies aspire to have this happen, but it’s an area where we can all improve.

Secondly, being the company’s soul would bring depth to what you do. We spend way too much time on surface items because we feel that’s where HR should be because it’s “safe.” It actually distances us from others. Taking the time to get to know our people more deeply makes us vulnerable, but it’s worth it. People have been coming to work forever with little to no meaning. They look for ways to connect, and we should be that connection !!

I think this is a perfect way to position HR. We have a chance to look internally first to see what our soul could be and then we could integrate that throughout our company’s culture. We all have it in us !! Let’s try it and see what happens !!

12 thoughts on “The Soul of the Company !!”

  1. The perspective of your presentation is very interesting! Over the years I relished the opportunity to be the soul of the company. It is a challenge for many HR people because so many others view HR most of the time as “as Soul” of the organization.

    Like you, I urge our peers to embrace the challenge to get to know people and let them get to know you! As you note, it is not something that is bestowed on us, it is earned.

  2. Thanks Steve. This is another pleasant way of looking at HR. More importantly, it’s a method of creating, or maintaining, the “soul” within our respective companies that our people can engage.

  3. Way to redefine HR Steve! People ask me all the time when they hear about my Master’s Program, “Why would you want to be in HR”? and I say “Why Not”! They are so many amazing things you can do in HR for the employees and organization. We aren’t just the hire and fire folks that are ready to write people up at the drop of a hat.

  4. Thanks for sharing! If every HR department viewed themselves as the “soul” of the company, how happy they would be! This article reminds HR pros to bring back the excitement,enthusiasm and passion for the field that may have gone astray. I always say HR must take care of itself first (before others!) and this is a positive reminder of the importance of ensuring an HR department is strong.

  5. I’ve often said there’s a “human” in “Human Resources”. We’re not machines just churning out paperwork. There’s so much more to our role than that. We do have a heart and care – employees are our clients!

  6. As always, great post! I love the idea of an inclusive organizational culture. We should get to know our employees. Listening is the key. Thanks Steve!

  7. It’s a bold statement to say that HR is like the soul of a company. I love it! It takes this kind of passion to make a big picture difference at work.

  8. I was just sharing with my team that we (HR) are the heart of the organization. Same concept. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Steve,
    Your thoughts about H.R. being the “SOUL” of the company are so inspiring! I agree that it’s time for us to focus on developing a much deeper connection with employees – this will definitely enhance our value in employees’ eyes!

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