One of my favorite old skool hip-hop songs is “Self Destruction.” After 20 years, I still know over 90% of the lyrics. It is one of a few old skool jams that causes me to stop whatever I’m doing and lose myself in words and nostalgia for a few minutes whenever I hear it.
It isn’t lost on me that the lyrics are still very much relevant and applicable today — but I don’t want to talk about that stuff here. This isn’t the place for it. This is a blog about HR leading organizations to high levels of performance. And although pop culture and politics trickle into the conversation, we always have to bring it back to the practical application of business theory and operations. Otherwise, we’re just more rhetoric and a symptom of the problem.
The song popped into my head recently as I was planning an exercise with my HR team about the connectedness of our functions. This is the first time I’ve worked somewhere with departments within the HR department, where everyone had a specialty and there were no generalists. And the in-fighting between the groups is something to behold! I thought only practitioners and consultants had ‘beef’ (see Notorious B.I.G for definition). Now I’m learning HR specialties fight with each other over who is the most important, who deserves the most accolades, attention and budget resources.
I found myself looking to these lyrics for explanation and inspiration …
It really ain’t the rap audience that’s buggin
It’s one or two suckas, ignorant brothers
Trying to rob and steal from one another
You get caught in the mid
So to crush the stereotype here’s what we did
We got ourselves together
so that you could unite and fight for what’s right
Not negative ’cause the way we live is positive
The first thing I had to remember is the majority of HR people do not feel this way. The majority of us are positive about and supportive of what each area is trying to do. We recognize each others’ value and we celebrate it. There are only a few bad apples who are insecure in their knowledge and their roles that are causing the problems. The positive voices must continue to speak often and loudly to mute and drown out the negative sounds.
Pop pop pop
When it’s hot who’s to blame?
Headlines, front page, and rap’s the name
Whether it is talent or benefits or safety, when things go wrong with the “people functions,” HR as a whole gets blamed. Business and the world of work at large doesn’t care about the specialties. They see us as ONE. We need to start seeing ourselves the same so that we work to help each other and not undermine each other.
If we want to develop and grow to another level
We can’t be guinea pigs for the devil
The enemy knows, they’re no fools
Because everyone knows that hip-hop rules
HR is still fighting to be seen as a valuable aspect of business. In this post on my blog, I talked about why this continues and what HR can do to make it better. Fighting each other doesn’t help our cause. We need to focus on what we have in common and how we are connected, not further division. The other areas of business get this and, for the most part, keep internal disputes under control and under the radar. HR must learn to do the same.
It’s time to stand together in a unity
Cause if not then we’re soon to be
The rap race will be lost without a trace
The wars between the specialties has HR headed for self destruction. By setting out to make the other look less valuable, the whole profession looks foolish and we all suffer because of it. We must learn to focus on understanding the specialties within our function and how we can help each other to be successful and advance. If we don’t, organizations will continue to look outside of HR for the leadership, guidance and strategy to direct the goals and path of the organization because no one has the time or desire to deal with drama!
Because the real “enemy” is our outside competition — the companies and industries we compete with for customers and market share. Not Operations or Accounting or IT and definitely not the other functions of HR.
Learn to be
To teach to each is what rap intended
But society wants to invade
So do not walk this path they laid.
It’s Self Destruction