Priceless…that’s the value placed on being a resource for advocacy, information, and cheer. Making an impact is one of the most gratifying aspects of working in Human Resources. As I reflect on 2014 and welcome 2015, an unlikely success story from the year resonates in my mind.
It made my day. The withdrawn, distant associate who seemingly had minimal selfconfidence approached me for career advice. He was considering applying for an internal promotion within the sales department. I praised him for considering the opportunity, and we discussed the position requirements, as well as, his potential fit for the role. With sporadic eye contact and a voice with little projection, he submitted his official application for the promotion.
Upon reviewing the internal candidate pool, I was resigned to the fact that he was the underdog. This not because of hard skills but due to the lack of soft skills so critical to the customer-facing role for which he had applied. My empathy for the employee kept the situation at the forefront of my thoughts throughout the recruiting process. Poised and magnetic he was not, but yearning for the opportunity and challenge he was.
Through discussions of the candidates with the hiring manager, a pattern became clear. The best fit for the department was an employee who was not arrogant but rather moldable--a diamond in the rough who needed an opportunity to shine. The logical choice seemed to be an employee who would absorb feedback and polishing. Was it possible that the introverted employee may be a finalist? Did he have a chance? Categories were made of those who would compete in the next round, as well as, those who would receive the traditional “thanks, but no thanks” notices. The final decision was to be made within the week following additional screenings with the current department’s team members.
Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock…the usual placid, calming ambiance of my office was replaced only with the sound of my oak wall clock. My focus and attention remained drawn to the outcome of the unlikely candidate for whom I was secretly rooting. My day continued on with walkin traffic, interviews, investigations, and unemployment appeals. Concentrating on various projects, I was startled by a voice asking, “Did you hear?” It was he—the employee who had stolen my compassionate HR heart. He went on to explain that his dream had been realized; he had received an offer for the internal promotion. We were both elated, and it warmed my spirit to observe him smile with sincerity for the first time. He radiated and glowed with a renewed sense of purpose and worth and conveyed his appreciation for the time and encouragement devoted to him. Giving him the push needed to place his name in the hat made a world of difference.
The hiring manager explained the rationale behind the decision. The sales team was comprised of seasoned confident talent, and diversity was needed for a green pipeline of learning and growth. The employee chosen was the best candidate because he was different and was awaiting a chance; he was stagnant and underutilized in his current role.
Since that time the employee has flourished, being invited to assist in onboarding new staff members, exceeding sales targets, and making his mark in the right seat on the bus. Seeing a genuine smile is such a reward, namely when from an employee who is not prone to exhibiting emotion. We had both gained. It wasn’t tangible, financial, or material. It was intrinsic-- for him the belief in our company and himself and for me the power of encouragement. I had gained great satisfaction from his achievement and helping to make a positive difference in his career.
The challenge? In 2015, resolve to note your continued impact and be proud of your service profession. Whether on a grand or small scale, the power of Human Resources is truly profound.
Laura Syfrett is an HR Coordinator for Buffalo Rock, Pepsi. Laura is the editor of HR Florida Review and holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing, a bachelor’s degree in public relations, and an MBA in Human Resources. She is also credentialed as a Gallup Strengths Coach, Birkman Consultant, Six Sigma Green Belt, and SHRM-CP.