Give a hoot

Sometimes it’s weird working as a support person (HR, Marketing, IT, Accounting, etc.) for a professional services firm. While the work you do may be excellent, it’s never what directly sells the business – I haven’t once heard of a client who said, “OK, you have a great design portfolio, but I’m going with you because your mentoring program is stellar!” (though an HR guy can dream, can’t he?). The very nature of the job means that it’s always going to be secondary, no matter how much it’s valued.

So when two people independently told me the work the company is doing in social media is pretty foolish these days, I wasn’t surprised or offended. They shared their viewpoints and I shared mine. To them, it takes away from the real business. For me, it sets us up for the future. In both our minds, we want to keep the firm sustainable. But they can only do that the way they know how – by designing great buildings and continuing what’s worked for them in the past – and I can only do that the way I know how – by creating new opportunities and channels to capture business and clientele and through making us the best place to work in order to attract and retain top talent.

The thing is, regardless of whether it’s front or center or behind the scenes, I believe in what I do. I believe that my actions have value and that I make important contributions. I wrote a few months ago about a friend of mine who was willing to take a pay cut while I was thinking about my generation’s need to “make a difference”. Some of my readers said that the money was pretty key, especially in these recession days. And that has to be step one – getting paid and being able to support yourself.

But revisiting this whole idea, I do think that once you’re at that stage, you want to get to the point where you’re invested in the work that you do. Bringing home a paycheck is the top reason for going to work, but if you’re not invested, the money, while it will keep you there, won’t stop you from being discontent and flat out bored. I’ve been thinking that maybe when we say that we want to “make a difference”, it’s just a fancy way of saying that we want to care about what we do, whether that’s designing a building that converts carbon dioxide to oxygen while serving as affordable housing for inter-city families, or filing the resume for that person who designed it.

Do I work for a non-profit and ultimately save the world? No. Maybe it is about the money for me sometimes. Do I enrich the lives of the people that I work with by creating a better environment to be in? Well, I like to think so. And that has to count for something, right?


4 responses to “Give a hoot

  1. I have to say I was very sketical about social media too. I am so fortunate to work with Alison who said something so profound it was a’duh’ moment. Social media is free when advertising, collaterals, tradeshows all cost money. Why not?

  2. The HR Intern

    @Debbie – Thanks for stopping by! It’s definitely something to wrap your head around. I have found that with all things technology, until you actually jump in and do it, you can’t really understand it. I, myself, was skeptical about Twitter until I logged on and joined the conversation last summer. You’re right – the free thing is definitely one of the keys to its success in the eyes of the higher ups.

  3. First of all, you are doing an excellent job, I’ve seen you in action. Second, you have touch an interesting topic here. Lately I’ve been hearing a lot from different folks that they are not really sure how to make a difference as our ancestors did. I’m sure a percentage of the population of every generation has felt the same way, at least based on my assumptions from the little I know. It would be interesting to dig more into that topic.

    Finally, I have come to the conclusion that time is really the new currency. And that’s more time to do more of the things that we enjoy the most doing. Yes, bills will come and it will require some planning, but if we could buy ourselves some time to pursue our passion, perhaps we feel we’re making a greater impact in our lives, those around us and our generation.

    Great blog post!

    • The HR Intern

      @Pedro – Thanks for the warm words. I really appreciate it. You’ve put out an interesting theory. Are we spending the time doing what we want? Are we using our time the way we want to? Like I mentioned, I tend to agree with what a few of my readers said, that the “making a difference” thing is bogus. But I think you’ve hit on something key, that we should feel like what we’re doing is worth our time. And that isn’t just at work, but it might be, like you alluded to, doing work that allows us the time to pursue our passions. I like to think that people strive to combine work and passion, but if that’s not feasible, at least they’re paying the bills to be able to pursue their passion outside of the office. Thanks for the comment!

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