23 years ago, I was terminated from my first job. It was traumatic to hear the words, “this is not working out, so we have to let you go.” As if being terminated was not bad enough, I was also in the final trimester of a tough pregnancy. My husband and I were in our first year of marriage. Two young people trying to make a life together as we shifted from a two-income household to one income.
That termination never sat well with me. I always wondered if what they did to me was legal or could they have handled it another way. It remains one of the most unsettling experiences in my career as an employee. Over the years, I have had numerous uncomfortable encounters with leadership as an employee, and this sent me on a journey to find out what the human experience in the workplace meant to me. What were behaviors acceptable and unacceptable to me? What did a true leader look like?
My quest for a great people-first experience brought me to an organization led by a group of women who would forever change my life. It was during my time there that I began to explore Human Resources as a career. These women were strong, confident, and smart. They always had time to share their knowledge and experience, and you felt a sense of pride to be a part of their legacy.
Did I mention that this organization was a tertiary learning institution? My bad. It was here that I developed a love for HR and organizational behavior, and I knew I wanted to make an impact on the people I worked with and for.
Fast forward to my next job, which led to my first position in HR. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to become certified while working with this company and to explore my role as an HR professional. It was fun and pleasantly taxing at the same time because I was learning as I went along.
This eventually brought me to my first role in a Fortune 500 company and one of the best mentors I have ever had. I envisioned her as the Olivia Pope of HR, slaying dragons with her white hat, but she knew her job well and treated people with dignity and respect.
I have amassed a wealth of knowledge and experience over my 15 years in the HR profession. Enough to know that it is the place I want to be for the rest of my life. This is why I got into HR:
I Believe That People Deserve The Best Experience On The Job
I am sure you know that culture is everyone’s business. In most cases, the first person a candidate interacts with is HR, and I believe that this experience should be earth-shattering. The first time I heard an employee say, “so that’s what HR is like.” I had the feels for weeks after that, and that is how I want everyone to feel when they interact with me. I believe in the spirit of igniting the people you work with and for. HR and leadership should be working cohesively to create the best people experience possible.
People Intrigue Me
As I said at the outset, I have always wondered what the leadership at my first job could have done better. I always want to get to the heart of what motivates people to do and say the things they do and say. Sometimes, when you understand what triggers someone, you get a better understanding of their thought process and the actions that follow.
I Love To See People Succeed
HR, for me, is not just about having a love for people. It is about seeing something in someone that they do not see in themselves and helping them to become what you saw all along. It’s about believing in people’s dreams and aspirations and helping them to bring them to fruition.
I Am A Coach At Heart
I have always believed that Human Resources is not about telling people what to do but helping them arrive at the answer by digging deeper through thought-provoking questions. I love to see the look on people’s faces when they arrive at the answer that makes sense to them.
Empathy is… Seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the heart of another, and feeling with the heart of another — unknown
While HR may not be the most glamourous profession, what we do has great value to the growth and development of the people who impact the bottom line. It is our duty to ensure that every person we encounter knows that we believe in them and their potential. That we coach the people leading and managing them to bring out the best in their teams. That we create an environment where people will embrace creativity and vulnerability because these are the things that enhance productivity.
While every day may not be sunshine and unicorns, knowing that you have impacted someone’s life to the point that they can flourish and achieve their best is exactly why I got into HR, and I am here to stay.
Julie Turney is the CEO & Founder of HR@Heart Consulting Inc., an HRforHR Coach, supporting the people supporting the people, Host of The HR Sound Off Podcast Show, and the Lead Organizer, DisruptHR Caribbean.
connect with Julie on Linkedin