Monday, October 25, 2010

Project Social - Why is HR Like Ice Hockey?

So we’re into week 2 of Project Social and Dave Ryan and I caught up last Friday to discuss next steps. One topic that came up is that our circumstances are very different and yet, here we are working together. Dave’s a male HR executive living in the Midwest and I’m a working mom living in Munich employed by a California-based software company.

We both have something to say about HR, however, and together we can say it louder.

We decided that this week we would interview each other. Dave wants to know more about what it’s like living and working in Germany and I want to know more about how being an ice hockey ref is a lot like HR.

Dave's interview of me can be found over at HR Official.

And here's my interview with Dave:

Laura: You are an ice hockey referee. What parallels can you draw between being a ref and being an HR executive?

Dave: In both roles the overall objective is to maintain order and provide a sense of fairness. While those are quite esoteric goals, if done properly both will promote an excellent environment in which to work or play. Consistency is another quality that should be demonstrated in both environments, this is reassuring to players and employees alike. In the larger sense this is all part of professionalism. A good official should never demean, or belittle players or coaches, just as a Human Resources Profession should never demean or belittle employees. It is pretty simple stuff when you get right down to it.

Laura: Are you as passionate about HR as you are about ice hockey? If your job was ice hockey referee, would you volunteer as an HR executive?

Dave: To directly answer the question the answer is No. If I could make a good living officiating, I would not dabble in H.R. For the time that I am on the ice all I think about is that moment i.e.: how many players are on the ice, how much time is left in the period, where is the player carrying the puck going to move it to and what is that players number, where is my officiating partner positioned; is the score on the scoreboard correct, all game related things. It reminds me of an old Nike commercial, when the off camera voice asks Jackie Joiner-Kersey what she is thinking about when she competes in the Olympics. The commercial cuts to a scene of Jackie running hurdles and you hear her shouting out 1-2-3- jump (over the hurdle) 1-2-3 jump, and then Jackie says, 'What do you think I was thinking about?'

Laura: What’s the most satisfying thing about HR and ice hockey?

Dave: I once heard a fellow talk about his work who said, 'That is my profession, my day job, but hockey is my passion.' I truly love being involved in both activities. There are probably many folks who would question my ability to perform the job in both roles (and they might be right). But, I try to do the absolute best that I can do each and every time on the ice and in the office!

Laura: Can you describe your biggest challenges in both roles? Are they similar?

Dave: The second answer first -yes. The biggest challenge in both roles is maintaining the sense of fairness and consistency. What is a penalty for one team should be a penalty for the other team. What is a disciplinary offense for one employee must be the same for another - otherwise I will have a coach or union steward taking me to task for the perceived inequities. To give you an example from the ice, a player who is known to commit a lot of penalties, is going to get far more scrutiny than a player who is known as a high skill player. If the high skill player commits an infraction, it may get overlooked because of his reputation as a "fair" player precedes him. This can happen in the workplace too. A problem employees may get more scrutiny that a top performer. Be careful, it is a slippery slope!

Laura: Do you feel like you make a difference?

Dave: Yes, I feel like a make a difference on the ice and one the job. If I didn't feel that way it would be time for me to do something else. I hold myself to that standard, and I feel that everyone else should be held to the same standard. Anyone who does not feel like they are making a difference should move on to something else. Like is too short not to care deeply, and immerse yourself in your passions, whatever they may be!

Laura: Thank you, Dave, for those honest and insightful answers. It sounds like both both roles require a high standard of consistency, fairness and excellence. And I couldn't agree more that people should be passionate about what they do. I'm looking forward to our next topic!

1 comment:

  1. Great interview -- now I need to go read Dave's interview of you. This article made me think about the next development for HR professionals. The focus on social media may wane now that this idea is out in cyberspace: Dress HR folk in protective padding and give them whistles! Now they can deal with all those other people who whack each other (figuratively) with big sticks.

    OK, seriously. I need to have more caffeine and take a few deep breaths.


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