feelings matter: how do you feel about HR?

Yesterday, I wrote: How the humans who are your (internal or external) customers FEEL about your products and services is much, much more important than what they THINK. [This is the single most important line I have written in this blog ever. Period. Think about it. Internalize it. Apply it to your job.]

I wrote it, but didn’t invent it. Much smarter folk than I have demonstrated this time and again, but it’s pretty easy to see in so many places. Advertisers provide just enough facts to let us think we’re being rational, but the images and ad copy focus on generating feelings. They scream: this product will make you feel sexy, young, in control, free, knowledgeable, successful, organized, powerful, fashionable, desirable, loved, safe, etc. etc. For a fun assignment, compare the feelings generated by car ads on ESPN or Spike with those on the Hallmark Channel.

Most recently, I saw this think vs feel distinction come up an Alexander Kjerulf’s “Creating Happiness at Work” presentation from Meaning 2012. It’s well worth watching and ties into employee engagement and the difference between how we feel about our jobs and how we think about our jobs.

All of this raises a great question: how do people feel about HR? When employees and managers think about their HR department, what is their gut level feeling? Anxiety? Dread? Or do they feel safe, secure, excited, supported? Is going to HR a dreadful walk to the principal’s office or an exciting visit to a place where stuff gets done and problems get solved? Sure, it depends on why you’re going to HR, so let me turn it around a little. When someone from HR is walking through the building do people’s stomachs tighten up or are they happy to see them?

How do people feel about the products and services your HR team provides? Resentful? Frustrated? Thankful? Confident? Uneasy? Awkward? Joyful? Empowered? Whether we pay attention to it or not, people have an emotional connection to their jobs, co-workers, boss, and even their HR department. That feeling might be negative, neutral, or positive.

Feelings matter. We don’t spend extra money, don’t create forums, and don’t promote products we feel negative or neutral about. When looking at customer satisfaction there is a huge gap between “it meets my needs” and “I’m so passionate about this product that I insist all my friends try it and spend my valuable spare time connecting with others who use this product”. That’s the gap between thinking and feeling.

So, back to HR. How do people feel about your HR department? What is their gut-level connection? If it was outsourced tomorrow, would employees even notice? Would they sing, “Ding dong, the witch is dead” and throw a massive celebration, or would they fight to keep it?

HR connects with it’s customers over money, family, security, future. All of those are powerful, powerful emotional trigger points. How can HR build stronger positive emotional connections to our customers? How can we not just meet the needs, but delight those we serve?

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