This series takes a deeper look at what’s happening inside human resources and talent acquisition now. Over three parts, we’ll hold up the mirror for self-reflective HR and TA pros keen to open their eyes to the vulnerabilities impacting the work they do, from inside, outside, and the echo chamber surrounding the space.
If you’ve made it this far, you know that we have egos, and not just us (though certainly us, too), but everyone. These egos influence us and the way we interact with people around us. Sometimes our egos go undetected, minding their business and letting us go about our days.
Other times, they cloud our judgment and make it impossible to act objectively or even rationally. While we believe that ego is primarily an individual issue, one that we ultimately control, it can also manifest on a larger level.
The HR echo chamber is a prime example, one where the majority of the ideas come from a few folks at the top that bounce around and around and around. Now, to be perfectly clear, we’re not here to attack any one person, organization, or association. That’s not our style.
The HR and TA industries are rich with resources. We’re writing this in one such destination, grateful to have the platform. But we have noticed ego often creeps into the conversations surrounding these spaces, both from the people doing the resourcing and those absorbing and putting the information into practice.
So, What’s the Problem?
The concept of an echo chamber comes from media studies, and while definitions vary, the basic theory is that these are environments where opinions and beliefs get reinforced through repeated interactions with peers or sources who have similar tendencies and attitudes.
In practice, that means reading and re-reading similar stories, listening to similar presentations, and internalizing similar thoughts from the same thought leaders until you consider their word to be the final truth. We see the effects of this with some of HR and TA’s more rigid mentalities.
This is not to say that the information out there is bad. But the ego associated with the HR and TA echo chamber has led to the idealization and adoration of some over others, directly challenging the growth and expansion of ideas. At a time when many are looking to move the needle on initiatives such as diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, we have to challenge the status quo.
That isn’t comfortable for some egos, and that’s the point. The same old doesn’t cut it anymore.
It’s up to HR and TA to shake off their egos and develop resources outside of said echo chamber – resources full of new or even dissenting ideas and opinions.
But What Else is There?
We’re here to advocate for a more flexible sentiment. We want to hear from up-and-coming voices and explore content that exists outside the immediate landscape. Doing this supports both unlearning and gaining a broader understanding of what surrounds you. It also helps you overcome your ego and bring a fresh perspective back to HR and TA.
Where to start? Micole Garatti, Marketing Director at Fairygodboss, recently said, “Be the person in the room who constantly brings up other people who should also be in the room.” Think about that because it requires humility and the ability to actively listen to, recognize, and amplify the thoughts of others.
That can be a big ask of our egos. But what impact could you have on those around you by merely introducing them to someone else? Seeking out people who think differently than you do, who challenge your mindset, is a small step in an entirely new direction. You might already know these people and just haven’t thought of them in this context.
They could be hiring managers, marketing, legal, even your CEO. Why not step outside the HR and TA comfort zone to invite others in?
Likewise, look for adjacent content. We send one another things we find interesting almost every week. Very few have anything to do with HR or TA directly. Not long ago, this meant an episode of the podcast, Call Your Girlfriend, about burnout that talked at length about what’s behind the façade of success and ambition.
The episode was mostly about workplace issues, even though the hosts consider themselves a journalist and a businesswoman, respectively.
You might be questioning the relevance of certifications or continuing education from one organization versus another. Know that you have options. You don’t have to follow a set course because it’s what someone, somewhere recommended.
In the same vein, you might aspire to become an influencer, wondering why you see the same people on these lists, year in and year out. Recognize that what worked for them likely might not work for you. Blogs don’t have the same pull in 2021 that they did in 2011. Everyone has a podcast now, and many think Clubhouse is the new Twitter.
Maybe that means this is your chance to revolutionize HR and TA on TikTok. You get to decide. Just don’t let the fame go to your head, OK?
Ego surrounds each of us, and in professions that rely on engaging other humans, egos get magnified. To cut through the noise of the echo chamber and find your true voice, you need to get quiet and listen. Drop any and all doubt and silence your inner critic by listening hard to yourself – and to others.
Foster self-trust by acknowledging you don’t have all the answers and neither does anyone else. At the same time, adopt a mindset of mental liquidity, which enables you to quickly change your mind without being stuck on a particular worldview.
The point is to get familiar with your ego, where it comes from, how it infiltrates your work and shapes your way of thinking.
We think HR and TA owe it to themselves to unlearn, to dismantle the ego in, out, and all around the space. That’s why we’re here to pose this challenge. We’re ready to take this journey, growing pains and all. Are you?
Laura Mazzullo is the Founder and Owner of East Side Staffing, a boutique Recruitment Firm specializing in the placement of experienced HR professionals. East Side Staffing’s values are Kindness, Curiosity, and Humility. Laura is led by those values, and is committed to and passionate about talent acquisition by consistently creating new ways to innovate and partner with her HR network. Laura has developed a successful career in recruitment and brings an entrepreneurial spirit and passion for building relationships. She also offers coaching and consulting services to Talent Acquisition professionals, HR Hiring Managers, and HR Job-Seekers. Connect with Laura on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn and subscribe to her YouTube channel at LearnWithLauraHR.
Katie Achille is a contributing writer for RecruitingDaily and PR professional, marketer, and serial freelancer with 15 years of experience supporting organizations from startups to Fortune 500 corporations, specializing in HR and recruiting technology. Her career highlights include launching a massive employer brand project at Verizon, writing a book with a former presidential cabinet member, promoting top lecturers such as Fareed Zakaria and Thomas Friedman, penning entries in an encyclopedia of military science, and teaching Pilates. Over the years, her work has appeared in Forbes, Entrepreneur, Venture Beat, Business Insider, Human Resource Executive, Workspan, and many more. She holds a BA in Journalism and Media Studies from Rutgers University and an MA in Historical Studies from The New School. You can read her latest musings at katieachille.com or connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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