Operations is from Mars, HR is from Venus

Operations and HR often feel like they are in two different worlds. Operations is seen as the move forward, get it done, business-first people while HR is seen as the softer side. The ones who are there to remind everyone that our people are our most important asset. Operations will tell you if they do not do their jobs right, there will be no people because the company will go out of business. HR will tell you that if they don’t do their jobs, there will be no people to run the operations, or the people that we have available will be the bottom of the barrel because no one else wants them.

And they are both right – they are both in it for the good of the organization. They are both there to ensure that the organization meets its stated goals – be it profitability, or community service, or whatever. The problem is they see the means to get there through very different lenses and do not take the time to understand the other party’s way of viewing things. HR is just a bunch of bleeding hearts whose sole purpose in life is to be difficult and make our lives hard, say my friends in Operations. Operations people are just cold, numbers-driven slave drivers, says many an HR peep who has sat next to me as we each ate our respective conference-provided box lunches. And once again, there is a reason for these perceptions, and they have all led to their fair share of misunderstandings. But the first step to better understanding is better communication, and the first thing for us to remember is that we are both in it for the same reason – for the betterment of the organization. So, HR, the next time you get a call from the line manager telling you that they need to fire so and so because they have a bad attitude, take a deep breath, squeeze that stress ball (you know you have a stress ball), and ask some questions. Don’t instantly go to “no,” and start digging in for a fight. Let them know that you want to help them better run their department, so you want to better understand what behaviors this person is exhibiting that is leading to this perceived bad attitude and then listen.

Operations, when your HR person puts up a wall and says “no, you cannot do that,” or “I will fight you on that,” or whatever they do that annoys you (I only have so much space here – work with me), explain how this is adversely impacting the business, and how by doing XYZ is for the betterment of the organization, and listen. Together, Operations and HR can make a pretty good team, if we just take the time to understand each other.

Now, you will have to excuse me, the &%$#@ COO is calling.

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