You were probably attracted to HR because you want to help people. It’s in your nature to do so. But be careful not to become too attached to helping employees.
It could actually hurt your career. Too much emotional involvement can drain your energy and spare time, increase stress, and damage your ability to perform objectively at a high level.
Use the following tips to maintain your emotional distance from employees’ problems, while still remaining effective:
• Remind employees that you can’t fix all their problems. Keep your door open and let employees know you will listen, but remember that sympathy isn’t your only job. Such a strategy is especially important when you have to deliver bad news. Don’t take it personally. Explain bad news from the business perspective.
Example: If your organization announces layoffs and upset employees flock to your office, listen and say that you understand how they feel. Then, as clearly as possible, explain the business rationale for the cuts.
• Set aside time each day to work without interruptions. Shut your door and don’t answer the phone. Spend that time on HR issues that don’t stoke your empathy but focus on organizational strategy and growth.
• Delegate when possible. Don’t become so emotionally attached to an HR project that you continue to manage the details of it long after you should. Plan a handoff strategy when launching any such project.
• Cut the cord between work and home. Don’t carry home feelings of guilt because you can’t help solve every employee’s problem. You’re their HR person, not their psychiatrist. Realize that and try to leave HR worries in “HRland”; don’t bring them home.
Final point: To know if “over-attachment” is a problem for you, assess how much time you spend at home dwelling on. If it seems excessive, map out a plan to draw a brighter line between being compassionate and being consumed.