The Deparentification of HR: Beyond Babysitting Adults and Becoming a Trusted Resource

We know why you’re here. Because you, too, want to cut through the fluff. Those HR influencers on LinkedIn are great, but sometimes you need something a little more… we don’t know– real.

Here’s what we’ve got for you today.

This isn't about reinventing the wheel; it's about taking a hard look at what's not working and fixing it.

We're in this together – whether you're a seasoned HR pro feeling the grind or just starting out and seeing the cracks in the old ways. It's about shifting from the “ThAt'S hOw We'Ve AlWaYs DoNe It' mindset to something that actually vibes with us, the HR folks that are employees too. We're talking less bureaucracy, more humanity; less red tape, more real talk.

HR's got a rep for being the office hall monitor (nice sash, though), but what if it could be more like that go-to coworker who actually gets sh*t done? The one who's there not just to enforce rules, but to listen, support, and make the workplace actually work for us.

So, let’s get into it. How do we turn HR into something we don’t just tolerate, but maybe even dig? Let’s break it down.

Moving Beyond the 'Office Parent' Role

So, first up, let's tackle this whole 'HR as the office parent' thing. It's time for a major update, a glow-up if you will. We're talking about shifting from a parental, oversight-focused role to being more of a collaborative partner.

From Rule Enforcers to Guides 

HR’s old gig was often about enforcing rules - kind of like a parent laying down the law. But what if HR was more about guiding, advising, and supporting? You know, that stuff you wanted to do all along at your job???

Imagine HR as the go-to for navigating the tricky parts of work life, not the one you try to avoid in the hallway.

We know you’re like, “Cool, I know this… but HOW?”

And the answer is… a lot of steps. We’ll condense it down to the following since you don’t have time for a dissertation.

  1. Communication and transparency: Tell people what you’re up to! Tell them what your intention is - to foster a more collaborative, empowering, and supportive workplace. And then DO exactly that because you need to walk the walk, not just talk it.
  2. Revamp policies with a human touch: Take a look at what isn’t serving your people. Policies are about compliance and supporting and guiding people. Where can you affect positive change? Maybe a shift from strict rules about working hours to something more flexible to acknowledge the various working styles of your team?
  3. Empower your people: Provide them with the tools and knowledge to succeed. Training sessions, workshops, resource libraries. Demonstrate you’re there for them to help make informed decisions rather than dictating what those decisions should be.
  4. Foster a culture of open dialogue: People need a safe space in which they feel comfortable voicing their opinions, concerns, and ideas without retribution. The safer they feel, the better feedback you’ll receive, and you’ll be able to use it to make positive changes for them.
  5. Be approachable and accessible: Sometimes HR is literally tucked away in a corner office. Nothing says “f**k off” more than a glass office with the best view and a closed door. Walk around the office, keep the door open (physically and metaphorically), and be present in communal areas. You’re an employee, too. Act like it. And when you offer support, make it personalized! 

Oh, and – no more 'Because I said so.’ Just like parents have their 'because I said so' moments, HR sometimes falls into the trap of enforcing policies without context. We want to know the 'why' behind decisions and policies. Understanding the reasoning makes it easier to get on board. So save it for your actual toddlers.

Encouraging Autonomy 

Just like moving out of your parents' house, it's liberating when you're trusted to make your own decisions at work. HR can foster this by encouraging autonomy. This means trusting employees (including your own team) to manage their time, work styles, and decision-making. It’s about giving them the keys and trusting they won’t drive off a cliff. (And they won’t feel like they have to if they’re working in a good, supportive environment.)

When you let folks call some of the shots in their own game, it's a game-changer. It's like choosing your own adventure instead of just following the script. And yeah, sometimes they’ll need a nudge in the right direction or have to be told that cake isn’t breakfast (don’t tell me what to do, Mom), but that's where you come in, playing more of a mentor role rather than the bossy boss.

But hey, autonomy isn’t about sending everyone off to their islands (or voting them off this one, Jeff Probst). It's about striking that sweet spot between going solo and team huddles. 

Feedback’s your friend here. And trust – this is the big one. Show them that you believe in their smarts and skills to get the job done. Isn’t that why they were hired in the first place? And when you respect their time and space, especially outside work hours, you’re basically saying, “I know you’ve got this.”

In the end, it’s about finding that perfect mix – guiding without gripping too tight, supporting without smothering. When you get this balance right, you’re not just Corporate Erin (you’re welcome for this rabbit hole); you’re like the cool coach everyone respects and wants to give their best for.

Open Conversations, Not Lectures

Ever had a one-way conversation with a parent? Or had them say, “It’s like I’m talking to a wall” at you? Yeah, not fun. HR should ditch the lecturing and cultivate a two-way dialogue. This is about creating a space where people can speak openly, share ideas, and even disagree respectfully.

Or, picture this: You’re back in school, and there’s that one teacher who just drones on and on. Your eyes glaze over, and you're mentally checked out. That's exactly what we don't want in the workplace. HR needs to step into the role of the ‘cool teacher’ – you know, the one who actually chats with you, not at you. (But also the cool teacher that still teaches a curriculum, not the one where kids show up to class and goof off the whole semester. We still need structure.)

We touched on this a little bit earlier, but it’s worth restating. Open conversations are where it's at. We’re talking about kicking those one-way lectures to the curb and bringing in real, two-sided dialogues. It's like having a coffee chat instead of a boardroom briefing. You share, they share; it's all about give and take. This way, ideas don’t just trickle down from the top; they bubble up from everywhere.

It's like HR becomes this great conversation starter, not the party pooper laying down the law. Not the one people go to when they’ve been “told on” or need to “tell on” someone else (although let’s be real, that’s kind of part of the job). These chats aren’t just about work stuff – they’re about what makes us tick, our side hustles, our passions. It’s about connecting on a human level, not just a paycheck level. And we know, “I have a question about my paycheck” are the words that keep you up at night.

And hey, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. Sometimes these chats get real – talking about what’s not working, hashing out the tough stuff. But that’s cool because it’s in these honest exchanges that the magic happens. It’s where problems get aired out and solved, not swept under the gross old office rug, the one that’s been there since 1973.

This shift from lectures to conversations is like turning HR into the office’s favorite hangout spot. A place where you’re heard, where your ideas matter, and where you’re part of the conversation, not just a listener. It’s about breaking down those office walls and building connections that are real and lasting.

“I’m doing all of this, but it isn’t working. Now what?”

We hear you. You're putting in all this effort, switching things up, making all the right moves – but it feels like you're hitting a wall. 

What gives, right? 

Here’s the deal: change, especially in something as ingrained as workplace culture, doesn’t happen overnight. It's like trying to turn a cruise ship; it takes time and patience.

First off, kudos for putting in the work. Not a lot of people do because it’s hard. It's easy to play it safe and stick to the old ways, so you're already ahead of the game. But if you're doing all the right things and still not seeing the results, let’s troubleshoot.

Check Your Timing and Approach

Sometimes, it’s not what you’re doing but how and when you’re doing it. Are you giving each new initiative enough time to settle in? Is your approach too subtle, or maybe too aggressive? It’s like tuning a guitar – you've got to find the right note before you rock on.

Get Feedback – The Brutally Honest Kind

Reach out to your team. And we mean really reach out. Ask for the raw, unfiltered truth. What's working? What's not? It might sting a bit, but that's how you find the real pain points. And, you know, keep your therapist on speed dial just in case.

Assess and Adapt

Once you have that feedback, don’t just sit on it. Act. Tweak your strategies, try new angles. It’s like editing a photo – sometimes you need to adjust the contrast or brightness to get that perfect shot. And listen, we all need a little FaceTune sometimes, no shame in the game.

Patience and Persistence

Remember, culture change is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s about small, consistent steps rather than one giant leap. Keep at it, even when it feels like you’re running in place. With that in mind, take care of your mental health. You don’t want to burn out shouldering this massive undertaking.

Celebrate Small Wins

It's not all about the big victories. Celebrate the small stuff, too. Did someone just share a great idea in a meeting? Awesome! Did a team pull off a project smoothly with the new autonomy you've given them? Heck yeah! Someone came to you to help resolve an issue? OMG! These moments matter.

Seek External Insights

Sometimes, an outside perspective can shed new light. Don’t shy away from consulting with peers in other companies, joining professional forums, or even getting a professional coach. It’s like getting a fresh pair of eyes on a puzzle. There are soooo many HR communities out there on Slack, on LinkedIn, and IRL. Find the one that fits your vibe!

Remember, culture change, especially in the realm of HR, is a tricky business. It's like trying to change the course of a river – it takes time, effort, and a whole lot of patience… sometimes even an act of nature. But the fact that you’re trying, that you’re questioning and reaching out, means you’re on the right track. Hang in there, and keep pushing forward. You’ve got this. It’s why you’re in HR.

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