This post is going to be more personal than my original outline intended. My outline contained three points with notes for each. I had a few examples I planned to share such as this from The Harvard Business review How Netflix Reinvented HR, but as I began to write the post I realized I didn’t need to find examples. I have them right here at TKO Graphix. I’ve been in the workforce for more than 50 years. I’ve worked with many HR specialists, some good, some bad, and some who at best were indifferent. Too often HR departments were more about policy than people. Don’t get me wrong, a company needs policies and guidelines to adhere to government regulations and best practices, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be accomplished humanely. Sandy Puttkamer, the HR generalist at TKO Graphix, does just that.

Sometimes People Matter more than Policy

At TKO, we have a points system for absenteeism and tardiness of hourly employees. It’s a very liberal policy. Any hourly employee may take a day off given the manager’s approval and a 24-hour notice without accruing points. An employee isn’t considered point actionable late unless they clock in more than five minutes after their time. Like I said, it’s liberal, but there are still times it doesn’t work—when HR needs to be more human. For example, a traffic obstruction that affects several employees morning commute causing them to be tardy. Policy states tardiness earns points, but the human and best answer is to take the circumstances into consideration, which is what Sandy does.

Be the Change

Be the change is something we talk about and share in our leadership training at TKO. The idea is we can accept poor performance from others by telling ourselves it’s not my job, or it’s not my responsibility, or we can look for ways to affect change. Sandy does this daily and not only with herself but with others. For example, I’ve come to Sandy with observations and challenges and rather than merely note my concerns she prompted me with open-ended questions and suggestions on how to improve the situation.

Train and Develop Leaders

Leadership development begins during the hiring interview, continues during orientation, and should never stop. Recognizing and developing future leaders, training new managers, and ongoing training with the management staff helps make leaders out of managers. Sandy has pushed for and instituted training at every level. Her next plan is to bring offsite managers to the home office for leadership and human resources training.

HR is more than Paperwork

I’m not an HR specialist, but I know there is a lot of paperwork in HR, and it is extremely important. Improper paperwork can expose a company to losses via insurance claims, government regulations, and more. Properly completed and timely paperwork is vital, but that doesn’t mean HR can’t or shouldn’t be human as well. Does your HR Department put the Human in HR?