The old adage “I’d rather be respected than liked” was made up by people who didn’t have any friends! And it’s been perpetuated for centuries by HR Pros who didn’t think it was professional to have friends in their organizations. “I’m not their friend, Tim, I’m in HR and there is a reason we lock the doors to our department!”
I look it this a bit differently. Make friends first. That is all. No, “then” or “after that”, just make friends. Do you know why HR Pros don’t make friends with employees? Yes, you do, it’s because “We don’t want to fire our friends!” or “We need to remain impartial” or “I’m stupid” (I made that last one up, which if your stupid you probably didn’t know).
The reality is, we do things attempting to stop stuff that probably will never happen. When is the last time you truly had to fire a friend? “Never – because I don’t have friends that work for me!” No, really, when? Most of us would say, “Never”.
The problem with not allowing yourself to be friends with non-HR employees is that you lose a major source of influence within your organization. Also, it sucks eating at your desk every day. And you decrease your eventual dating pool. But, really it’s the influence! So, here are 5 steps you can do to be more liked and make more friends at work:
1. Stop being a know it all. HR people act like they created Congress, everything is legal this or legal that. Stop it! Be normal. 99% of stuff HR thinks might happen, doesn’t happen. Trying to mitigate 100% of the risk in your organization makes people hate you and it doesn’t help you do your job better.
2. Make a fool out of yourself once in a while. You’re not that important that you have to act like Mr. Manners all the time. Having employees laugh at you because you did something silly, foolish and/or crazy, will help them believe you might be normal.
3. Hang out with the smokers! Let’s face it smokers are cool and know everything that goes on in your organization – you want them as friends. I don’t smoke because it’s gross, smells and will kill you, but I love hanging with smokers, especially if they have one of those voice boxes they talk out of!
4. Go out to Lunch with Non-HR Employees. Preferably not with the smokers because that isn’t appetizing at all.
5. Kiss another employee on the mouth at the office Christmas party! Kidding, just making sure you were paying attention. Don’t do this, unless you’re really drunk and want to leave a legacy. Here’s the real #5 – Spend 50% of your time away from your desk visiting employees and hiring managers, even the ones you don’t like. This will change your professional life forever.
Being liked in HR is important it allows you to do your job in a much more efficient manner than when people don’t want you around. It’s not about respect – you can have both – and given the choice of having respect and being hated or having respect and being liked – well, let’s just say I hang out with smokers.