‘Sincerely yours, Deeply Disengaged’: An anonymous HR professional writes

DeeplyDisengaged.jpgWhat happens when working in HR feels just too much like a thankless task? When going that extra mile in HR is treated with indifference at best? When one of your objectives is employee engagement, yet you yourself feel deeply disengaged?

This guest blog post was written by a UK HR professional who is at the end of their tether when it comes to their work.

I sincerely hope that noone else out there reading this finds themselves in the same boat – but I suspect some of you will be.

The author of this post wants more than anything to get some guidance on what they might do next.

So please, if anyone out there has any words to help ‘Deeply Disengaged’, please do get in touch via Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ – or if you would like to post a longer comment, please could you e-mail your comment to me at this address, and I will add it to the post as an update. Thank you!

‘Sincerely yours, Deeply Disengaged’: An anonymous HR professional writes

The filling in a stale sandwich. That is how I feel at the moment and hopefully you will soon understand why.

I am working as a senior HR professional in a medium-sized organisation and I am feeling very disillusioned right now.

I am so passionate about people in organisations.

In fact, let me rephrase, people are organisations.

My work every day is focused around making the workplace a better place to be for employees, whether that is recruiting the very best people, helping people develop their skills and knowledge or helping people exit the business in a fair and dignified way.

To me, ensuring people are at the centre of everything you do is fundamental to being successful in all other areas. It is the foundations on which everything must be based.

People must be at the forefront of the agenda

Let me be clear. I am not some happy clapper. I get that companies exist to make money but I think in order to perform people must be at the forefront of the agenda. Everything I do in my role is done not because it is the latest HR thing to do but because I believe it can and will make a difference.

A big part of my role is employee engagement/involvement/communication, whatever you want to call it. I have initiated some really super things in this area that have been really well received by frontline employees. I have completed a full review of reporting lines and job roles to create more autonomy for employees to be able to get on and do their work without blocks; I have implemented a shift from a one size fits all learning and development agenda to a signature experience that addresses the personal needs of learners; I have launched Chatter (social platform) inside our business to complement other facilities in place for dialogue with individuals and teams. These are all things that people wanted in order to help them work better.

Making a difference…

These initiatives are making a difference. Now more than ever our people have a voice and many ways to make themselves heard. We are hearing from people and teams that up until now never had opportunities to be heard and it is making a difference to them and their work. Feedback is now two-way and things are improving fast.

Retention of employees has increased significantly and retention of candidates in the recruitment process has increased. Speed of work output and completion has risen as a result of a more autonomous approach.

I could talk and talk about the things I am doing and the results that we have seen but you get the picture.

…but is it just the filling in a stale sandwich?

All sounds pretty good eh? Well not entirely.

Here is my dilemma.

I feel like all this good stuff is the filling in a really stale sandwich. The powers that be don’t value the work I am doing.  This is evident in many ways, from the lack of budget and resourcing given, to the attitudes I encounter all the time. “It’s just HR”, “They need to go”, “we don’t have the money”.  These attitudes seem to be reserved for the HR department alone. And yet the HR function is the one supposed to being managing our people.

I sometimes wonder why they have me in the business at all. But then I know the answer to that. It is so someone can be there to have the difficult conversations and keep them out of court.

So how does all this make me feel? I feel totally disengaged with my boss. My boss doesn’t appreciate me, know me or care for me. I cannot remember the last time I received any feedback let alone praise. I feel like a fraud because everything I want to achieve is not being endorsed by the powers that be. There is no correlation between the guff spoken by the organisation and the reality I am in.  We have an amazing mission statement that is total BS. And yet I love my work and the people I am supporting every day.

I know you will say that I should speak up and believe me I do. I sit in strategic meetings where I am always banging on about how these areas can hit our bottom line. But things never change and with issues so inherent and senior I am not sure if they ever would.  And if I am honest if the labour market was healthier and jobs plentiful I would be elsewhere. How many other employees are feeling like this? What does this mean for organisations?

Sadness is part of disengagement

I attended a conference on employee engagement last month. They listed the characteristics of a disengaged employee. Uninterested, lacks motivation, lazy were just some of the things on the slide. I wanted to add one word. Sad. Sad that they long to be engaged and valued in an organisation and they are not. Sad that the organisation they thought they were coming to work for is not what they hoped and were promised. Sad that they feel like a fraud most days.  Sad that they are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Part of me writing this post is to say, look at me; you many think I am a highly engaged employee but actually I am deeply disengaged and unhappy.

I would be really interested to hear from anyone who would have any advice to offer on how I can improve this situation.

Yours sincerely

Deeply Disengaged

UPDATE 1 (Wednesday 29 May 2013): A round-up of reactions to what ‘Deeply Disengaged’ has to say

I’m pleased to report that we’ve had some very good reactions to this post already, via Twitter.

Here’s a selection of them:

  • @kategl says: “I fear this writer is not alone.”
  • @hrtinker says: “I’m not surprised or shocked by this. I feel sometimes people pity us for what we have to put up with. But you’ve got to keep fighty.”
  • @ariadneassoc says: “Deeply Disengaged’s employers will suffer once economy picks up – something I warned #sme clients about bit.ly/Sww8X1 #hr”
  • @JacksonT0ny says: “If you lead a business read this..am sure others feel the same. Behaviours towards #HR colleagues can be poor”

If you have any words to help ‘Deeply Disengaged’, please do get in touch via Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ – or if you would like to post a longer comment, please could you e-mail your comment to me at this address, and I will add it to the post as an update.

UPDATE 2 (Wednesday 29 May 2013): The HR Twitterati offer ‘Deeply Disengaged’ their advice

I’m very pleased to report that a number of excellent comments have come in so far, in response to what ‘Deeply Disengaged’ has to say here. Unfortunately, our comments facility appears to be being affected by gremlins today. I apologise for the inconvenience to anybody that has so far tried to post a comment. While this is being investigated, if you could please e-mail me your comments instead, I will add them as soon as is possible.

Here are the comments received so far:

Gemma Reucroft (@HR_Gem on Twitter) says:

Firstly, let me say I hear you.  I’ve been there.  I’ve worked for an organisation where HR was the dumping ground, the last to know anything, disregarded and largely irrelevant other than to clean up messes.

I still am there sometimes, not at an organisational level, but with those individuals who still don’t get what HR is, does, can contribute.

You have three choices.

Firstly, accept what is and roll with it.  You are making a difference because you have given examples in your post.  Small steps maybe, but difference all the same. You could accept that it will be evolution not revolution and just keep plugging away in the knowledge that not everyone will ever get it and you can live with that.  People will be recognising and appreciating what you are doing even if it does not always feel that way. Regarding your boss, this won’t be easy.  But if you take option 1 there are other options for getting the support and development you need.  If you are blogging through Mr Carty, then chances are you are reading all the other great blogs out there, and are on twitter already. Peer support will be vital, and you can get brilliant ideas and engagement in the social space.  To be honest, it is where I get most of my ideas and excitement for HR.

Option number two – stay and fight. Be a pain, push yourself forward, confront the moaners and keep going towards what you believe in. Sit down with your boss and tell him / her you need more, you want feedback and development. There is personal risk in this, because sometimes you can be such a pain in the neck that people get sick of you and want you to go.  I’ve been here too.

The third option is to leave.  I’ve also done that. Only you can decide if / when it gets to that point, and I know it isn’t an easy decision.  But there are companies out there that will embrace good, strong, value adding, brave HR.

There is one thing to take away from where you are now; it is a learning experience. HR often needs to prove itself in a way that other business functions do not. We also have to fight hard for things sometimes.  You are currently developing a skill that you will need again and again in your career.  I am using it today! Good luck, and please contact me if you want to talk more.

Neil Morrison (aka @NeilMorrison on Twitter) says:

Hi there,

I have an awful feeling that my comment is going to seem harsh. That said, I have a horrible feeling that you could be portraying yourself as a victim, rather than taking ownership of your own situation.

You say you’re making a difference, but at the same time that your contribution isn’t being recognised. Our work is often solitary, without reward or recognition. It requires resilience, perseverance and doggedness. Your recognition and reward should be in making your workplace a better place to be. If that isn’t being seen by others then it seems to me that you have three choices:

1) Carry on and suck it up

2) Up your game and make it impossible not to recognise your work

3) Pack your bags and move on

You have complete control over your destiny. Your choices determine your future. You can complain and accept, or you can act. The profession is full of people who “could have”, “should have”‘ “would have” if it wasn’t for “the business”, “management” or some other excuse. You’ve got a choice to join them or not to join them. You’ve got a chance to choose.

Sorry if this seems harsh, but this is how I see the situation.

Good luck with it, I truly hope you succeed whatever path you take.


Steve Browne (aka @SBrowneHR on Twitter) says:

What a story !!

First of all, I want to be encouraging to the author of the post.  The direction you’re taking in HR is spot on.  I understand that it’s falling on deaf ears, but your take on things and your focus on people is what will keep HR relevant going into the future.  You can’t step away from that at all.

Too many of my peers have stepped back from this stance and have relegated themselves to very good tactical, administrative HR functions.  They feel like hollow shells, but it’s what their companies allow.

Your true struggle, as noted by the great folks who’ve commented, is that your company doesn’t value HR.  When I talk to HR pros who are looking for new gigs, I encourage them to ask, “So, how does your company view HR ??”  The answer you receive is paramount to the amount of impact you will have at a company.

Don’t give up on HR.  HR IS about the people and I am zealous about this.  The truth is that there are organizations that see this as well.  They are in the minority right now, but they won’t be for long.

I think you’re more engaged than you think.  It’s just a shame that your leadership isn’t !!

Simon (aka @simonheath1 on Twitter) says:

Assuming you have exhausted all avenues for catalyzing a sustaining change in the organisation, my advice, for what its worth, is to get out before your disengagement turns to resentment. I know the job market is tough but if you are half as good as the things you’ve done suggest you might be, you’ll find a business glad to snap you up. And you’ve got perfect experience in what to be vigilant for in a prospective employer so hopefully avoid repeating the cycle.

Megan Pippin (aka @OD_Optimist on Twitter) says:

I have both left and stayed.

When I left, it was because the culture was unbearable, so lacking in integrity that almost on a daily basis I felt I had to compromise my own.   I felt I could make no individual difference, and when I went my wonderful team were strong enough to make their own choices.

When I stayed, it was because there was still plenty for me to learn, develop, get, and I was able to make an individual difference.  I swallowed my pride, concentrated on what I was doing well, made my point upwards clearly and with supporting evidence.    Picked my fights.  I worked to remain a role model for constructive behaviours, and by the time I left (I set myself two years) I walked away with a light heart, knowing I had done the right thing for me, given them my best.

(I walked into the one that I left …….)

My advice to you is this:

Ask yourself, what are the benefits of staying vs the risks of leaving?  Weigh them up.  Is there enough in it for you to stay?  If you have to stay, how can you enrich the experience for yourself?  If you can rely on  no other person other than you, what can you go home with each night feeling proud of, satisfied and know you have congruence with your personal values?  Even if your boss was amazing, you would still be the one responsible for your own conduct and contribution.

If you can’t bear it, then save every penny you can, scour for job possibilities, keep maximising every contribution you can possibly make at work, know that this is your life lab, everything you are experiencing now is echoed across your organisation and others are experiencing it to.  Your own pain will deepen and strengthen your perspective.

Happiness comes from within.  Search for it.

Greg Casson (aka @gregcasson on Twitter) says:

I see this a lot from Wellbeing Champions within organisations.  They are doing superb work to drive wellbeing initiatives bit can often suffer from Leaders that pay it lip service only and an employee group that doesn’t understand the role of a Champion.  Being disengaged and sad in the middle of a ‘stale bread sandwich’ is something I see a lot.  A great read.

Tim Scott (aka @TimScottHR) says:

Gemma (@HR_Gem) has mostly written the advice I was going to give so this is considerably shorter than it would otherwise have been.  I’d add the following thoughts: you clearly ARE making a difference to the company and if they don’t value that higher then more fool them. I’ve been in the situation you describe too (although I felt I wasn’t really making any differrence) and for me, things were so difficult in my personal life for various reasons that I stayed rather than take on a new role. At the end of the day, I rationalised, I work to pay the bills and I’ve always been grateful (underneath any other feelings) to be in a job that I didn’t hate and that paid most of the bills. Yes some days were sheer drudgery and seemed to last forever. But it’s not forever, nothing is, even if it feels like it at the time. You literally never know what’s around the corner in life – a change in line manager, the unforeseen departure of a CEO, an unexpected job offer, even a simple tweet from a friend that makes you laugh about your situation… Hang on in there! Or don’t – it’s your choice and only you can make it… Good luck!

UPDATE 3 (Thursday 30 May 2013): New comments from @AlisonChisnell, @RakshaHR, an anonymous commenter, @VeraWoodhead and Tony Goddard!

Alison Chisnell (aka @AlisonChisnell on Twitter) says:

It’s tricky isn’t it? I don’t wish to come across as harsh, but HR is very much part of the business and aligned to the business: it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. So, whilst it sounds like you have been achieving great things and making a difference to the things that you believe are important, there may be a conflict between your well-intentioned best-practice agenda and the prevailing business strategy, which means that you are not appropriately recognised for what you have done. Like it or not, I do think HR people have to start from where the business agenda is at and deliver value there. I guess in your place I would be asking your boss for feedback and for objectives on where they would like you to focus. For example, you say that you are there to keep them out of tribunals…if that is what is important to your boss, perhaps you could deliver some training sessions to managers on employment law and managing risk, upskilling them on how to deal with difficult people issues without creating risk for the business. If you can’t get this steer from your boss, perhaps try with the senior management team and try to work from this angle on their issues and concerns.

HR isn’t really a one size fits all types of job, it varies hugely between organisations. It may be that you want to focus on totally different things than your boss wants you to and that actually your values and the way that you want to perform the HR role are just not aligned to the organisation’s values and strategy. In which case, it may be that the best thing to do is to move on. But, if you can listen to what your boss actually wants you to do – if they are able to articulate it! – and deliver some value that they recognise, then perhaps you will be able to move on with a greater sense of achievement and engagement than you’re currently experiencing. It’s definitely a powerful HR competence to be able to demonstrate in any interview how you have won over managers who were not interested in HR and really demonstrated your value to them….and it creates confidence that you can replicate that in any new, less than perfect organisation.

Whatever you decide and however it turns out, I wish you the very best of luck!

Raksha Khilosia (@RakshaHR on Twitter) says:

Deeply disengaged, everything you said feels so familiar to me and evidently to so many others. I hope the fact that we’ve all been there and have come out of it as better people and better HR professionals provides some comfort to you.

The one thing I would say is to not wallow in this misery. Take action and do it NOW. You are the only person who can change the situation either by:

a) moving on to an organisation that is crying out for your skills (they are out there) or

b) keep doing what you’re doing in your current organisation. You have accomplished so much there so stay positive. Focus on doing what you believe in and push hard to get recognised by the right people.

The worst thing you can do is not recognise your own achievements. Stay positive and enthusiastic in order to achieve what you want to achieve.

I’d just like to leave you with a quote that I hope can help in some way:

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

- Winston Churchill

Anonymous commenter 1 says:

Three points:

1. Like Gemma, I feel my integrity is regularly compromised but I stay. Why? Because I know I have made a difference and can do in the future, and because I feel there are one or two leaders who also share my vision of how the company can be and are influential enough to fight for the things I am trying to do.

2. I have one or two HR colleagues who share my sense of frustration who I can talk to about this stuff when it gets bad and who I know have my back. That is very important. If there is no one else in HR your writer can talk to, they need to find someone externally who can listen and advise when needed.

3.  I am learning so much.  It has made me question everything I’ve ever learned about HR and my own capability. How should I be doing things differently? How do I negotiate the politics? How can I better position my team to make a difference? How can I keep them motivated and engaged in the face of constant negativity? How can I create great HR solutions with little or no budget or buy in?

I’m not a quitter, never have been. But there have been times in this role when I have thought “I can’t do this anymore.”  But I have decided this is a great opportunity to completely re-evaluate everything I am doing, reinvent the HR function and channel my energies that way. They are lucky to still have me, they just don’t know it yet!

Vera Woodhead (aka @VeraWoodhead on Twitter) says:

Although I am not an HR practitioner I have been in similar positions – where I stayed (took 2 years of grit and determination) and the other where I left (intuitively felt the right thing to do) . From my own experience and working as a leadership coach would say:

  • If you have the resilience, energy and can muster support from a few well placed champions/ allies…stay. It will be one of your hardest but most worthwhile learning experiences and will test your leadership and how creative and innovative you can be
  • If you stay, get some support for yourself – seek out a mentor from a different organisation / sector or use a coach
  • If staying will result in negative consequences for your health, emotional and mental well being, then leave… Acknowledge that you have made a difference, have achieved some great outcomes and move on. Find an organisation that is aligned and receptive to work that you want to do and where you can put your talents and energies to work

Best of luck

Tony Goddard says:

Having read the comments on the blog I began to wonder who set Deeply Disengaged agenda and objectives. It seemed to me that if the agenda/objectives had been agreed by the business then the results would be recognised and appreciated by the organisation.

There is a danger that HR people in the enthusiasm lose the business plot and go off and do what they think is required. This can often lead to a remote and unappreciated function.

The other thing that does not seem to be mentioned is feedback on the results of all the initiatives implemented by Deeply Disengaged. The blog talks about:

  • Initiatives that make a difference to staff and their work – what difference?
  • Improved staff retention – what value does that have and how does it compare to other areas of the business?
  • Improved recruit retention – what’s the value and how much has it improved?
  • Speed of output – by how much and too what value?

I can’t imagine anyone in a business that would not be interested in these kind of quantifiable results.

UPDATE 4 (Wednesday 29 May 2013): @PerryTimms weighs in!

Perry Timms (aka @PerryTimms on Twitter) says:

Dear Disengaged,

You have some absolute top drawer advice so far so I won’t repeat or add to that unnecessarily but here’s a very personal story from me.  I hope to give hope and some sense of focus around this so here goes.

I go back to the turn of the century (!) to just before I was officially in HR.  So this is not a tale of woe about HR but there are similarities.

I’d just landed a dream role on the mother of all programmes.  The agenda was not only exciting, it was necessary and overdue.  I was bought in before it existed and before I got a job on it.

So I went on what would (today) be called an engagement roadshow.

I went out to all manner of places, sizes, cultural microzones and I was  regularly battered.  Verbally and attitudinally.  I was bruised, jibed at and dismissed as a heretic. Someone who didn’t understand, couldn’t possibly believe in it and was part of the vacuum that is Corporate HQ.  I was one of “them”.

Yet day in day out i rolled with this abuse, took body blows and STILL believed in the mission.  I probably believed in what i was doing even more because people were so animated by it that they took it out on me.

I weathered this storm and put my life on hold for about 4 months and took this attitude day upon day.  I had people apologise to me about their colleagues, I had people misbehave like naughty school children and had heated discussions with many people. Yet I was unwavering. Because I believed in what i was doing.

When i shared tales with my Director he took it to the CEO as damning indictment of “HQ bashing” which was unacceptable.  Something was done about it in line briefings and i guess some people felt bad for attacking me.  No one ever apologised though.

Did I feel like quitting? Sometimes.  Did I feel lonely? Often.  Did I stop believing in the mission?  Never.  I would still believe it even now with hindsight and bitter experiences.

So it sounds like you believe in what you are doing despite the lack of appreciation?

It is something about the engagement word that I have long been suspicious of.  Is it engaged in what you do and not who you do it for?  Is it that you are engaged with what you do and the recipients of your engaged ways?  Is it why you do it and that is irrespective of who for and who receives your engaged outputs?

In my case I was engaged in why and what not who for or who with necessarily.  That is why i rolled with those punches and why I gave 100% every single time to the last.

I left corporate life 10 months ago and was engaged in what i was doing until i was overwhelmed by demand and screwed up several times. I damaged myself and what i was doing so I had to walk.

I am completely committed to what i am now doing as an independent practitioner and still I roll with punches and take abuse and get accused of being condescending, naive, unrealistic, overly excitable, whatever.  I roll with it because i believe in what i am doing.

People can be spiteful, hateful even, distrusting, awful and pointless.

I though, am unashamedly committed to living my life by the things i believe in so much; to improve the world of work one conversation at a time.

I hope I have helped you see how this stuff makes you stronger but can also eat away at your psyche and self belief.

Which is why i will close by saying 2 things; -

Do you believe in you?

Do you believe in what you are doing?

I hope they will help you find inner resolve, comfort and drive that i have experienced.

Good luck with your thinking, decisions and actions on this.  We are with you all the way it appears.


We’ve also had a comment from Harry Freedman, who says:

Dear Deeply Disengaged

Your dilemma is unfortunately one shared by many HR professionals. But if your company isn’t responding to your achievements and enthusiasm, then, bad job market or not, you are in the wrong place and you need to do something about it.

You obviously have so much to offer and you should find a better place to work, one which will value your talents. Of course you shouldn’t make a move until you know it is the right move, but I would encourage you to start looking- just the very fact of knowing you have set a process of change in motion should boost your morale and help you to start feeling better. And who knows where it would lead…

Best wishes

Harry Freedman

UPDATE 5 (Thursday 30 May 2013): HR is ‘better as a whole,’ says @SBrowneHR

I am so pleased by the latest development in this story. Not content with posting a superb comment full of fine advice for ‘Deeply Disengaged’ (see Update 2, above), top US HR blogger Steve Browne has now published a wonderful, generous post inspired by ‘Deeply Disengaged,’ entitled Better As A Whole !!.

Steve says:

There are healthy ways to protect yourself from disengagement and discouragement !! One key component to being healthy in HR is to surround yourself with great peers and folks you can learn from.  People often tout the notion of “continuous learning” but few take the time to do it.  I see more and more people longing for connections, but not knowing how to make that leap.

And I particularly like this point:

Great connections are intentional.  And being intentional makes us better together as a whole.

Brilliant stuff. Thank you for writing this, Steve.

UPDATE 6 (Monday 3 June 2013): ‘We ARE stronger together,’ says Jennifer Stone

Jennifer Stone says:

Dear Deeply Disengaged,

I’d like to piggyback on Steve’s comment “I see more and more people longing for connections, but not knowing how to make that leap.”  This is so true.  We live in such a disconnected world.  But I have an idea for you . . .

You could make some connections, clear a path forward for yourself and get some support (especially if you do make a transition out of your firm) by creating a “goals group” for yourself.  They are small groups of 4-6 people who meet face-to-face on a regular basis to help each other achieve their goals.

Your goals, if I read your letter correctly, are to feel more appreciated by your boss for your contributions, to receive more feedback about your work, and to feel more engaged.  Last but not least, you’d like to continue to make the workplace a better place to be for employees.

It’s really hard to achieve such goals on your own! When you put together a goals group, you won’t feel like you are living on Desperate Island.  You’ll feel like someone’s actually got your back.  You, in turn, will helping others to connect and to contribute meaningfully to each others’ lives.  As Steve wrote, “Great connections are intentional.  And being intentional makes us better together as a whole.”

You could also think about goals groups for the employees at your company.  Goals groups foster knowledge sharing and employee engagement. And they cost very little.  You might need a consultant to help you launch a goals group initiative, but it’s not a huge outlay by any means.

Life is not a DIY project!  We ARE stronger together.

UPDATE 7 (Monday 3 June 2013): ‘There are a million people out there who would gladly put themselves in your place,’ says @NeilMorrison

Following on from his words of advice for Deeply Disengaged (see update 2 above), top UK HR blogger Neil Morrison has today published a searing blog post that would appear to be at least in part inspired by the debate here.

Neil’s post is entitled The Price Of Greatness. Here, Neil presents a hard-hitting and highly compelling rallying cry to the HR profession. Neil argues that HR must not “become self-determined victims.” He reminds HR that it has “the weight and responsibility of free will” on its shoulders, and that its “every action, every interaction, is a conscious undertaking.”

Here’s where it gets seriously bracing:

There are a million people out there who would gladly put themselves in your place. If you’re not up to it. Get out.

What do you make of what Neil has to say here? Are you up to the challenge? Please get in touch (or better yet, post a comment on Neil’s blog) to share your views!

UPDATE 8 (Monday 3 June 2013): ‘To change a culture effectively, you have to be inside it,’ says Rachel Fawcett

Rachel Fawcett (Chief HR Officer at Skipton) says:

I recognise your dilemma, but one thing I have learned is that to change a culture effectively, you have to be inside it. You can’t change anything if you are not part of it. So if you are making a difference to those around you, you have to keep going and then work out ways of extending that influence even further. You can change teams from inside them, you can change relationships by being in one, you can change an organisation a little bit at a time by being in it. It takes energy, passion, belief and resilience. It also takes support, coaching, new ideas and courage – and if you don’t get those things internally, find them externally.

It depends on how much passion and energy you have to make the changes needed in your organisation. Change like this is viral, the immune systems of some of those in senior positions will be quite strong. But if you keep making a difference, investing in change around you, working with others and helping them to make a difference – eventually they will become infected.

Ghandi said “be the change you want to see”. A great way of looking at it, I think.

Good Luck. I hope you find your mojo and are able to keep going…..


UPDATE 9 (Monday 3 June 2013): ‘Deeply Disengaged is not alone…’

Georgiana-Florina Mihalache says (via a related discussion on the XpertHR UK LinkedIn group):

Sorry to confirm, but this employee is not the only one in this situation. I have been working in HR for 10 years now, I have the position of HR manager and yet I have been considering a crazy change to software testing as I have graduated Computer science.



- I work in an organization where the average age range is 24, where people have demands, where they want to promote asap, where they expect HR to do all for them and yet they do nothing in return – they don’t even bother to remember their damn payroll passwords;

- I have targets that should be SMART but are NOT because one of my managers mistakes the objectives and my development plan with my job description while my other manager doesn’t bother to even check or care;

- I have to chase managers to respect deadlines for HR processes, deadlines that my next level HR doesn’t respect;

- I have no support from top management and I am tired to struggle alone and be a buffer between employees who have demands and managers who don’t want to fulfill them;

- my superiors constantly forget that an HR manager is also an employee who needs a development plan, a performance review and support;

- I am bored with the same crazy tasks that I can’t give to someone else in order to evolve;

- there’s no position I can apply to in order to be promoted because the center in our location is too small and our mother center abroad takes all the good positions there and leaves nothing for us;

- I am tired of managers promoted God knows how (and to whom we must report) and who have trouble using Excel and basic reports;

- I am tired of having to respect procedures while I see that my managers don’t and blame it on lack of time;

- I am tired of being part of the department everyone has high demands from but to which all awards, bonuses, salaries everything go last or never – nobody bothers to involve us in trainings, there’s never a budget for our needs, nobody bothers to create development plans for us, to do real performance reviews for us, to care about the results of our engagement surveys – since these are the items we monitor, we must do it for the others – we must always smile, be nice, be ready to motivate the people around us – well, who is motivating us then?…

Want more?

I guess that an entry level employee is in a better position than myself because they have room to evolve – since I am already HR manager my only chance is to leave or to change career… Sad, huh?

UPDATE 10 (Tuesday 3 June 2013): @ChinaGorman advises ‘Deeply Disengaged’!

It is my great honour to report that one of the leading US HR bloggers, China Gorman, has devoted the latest in her excellent weekly series of Data Point Tuesday posts to her response to ‘Deeply Disengaged’ (and to some of the commenters who have kindly weighed in so far, above).
In this post, China gives the following message to ‘Deeply Disengaged’ (and to the HR profession in general):

HR needs to be focused on making the organization more efficient and productive leveraging the organization’s most costly resource, people. HR’s work needs to start with the organization’s strategic and business plans and deliver solutions that enable the successful growth of the enterprise. In other words, HR needs to be focused on the business!

Here is some of China’s advice on what she thinks ‘Deeply Disengaged’ (and other people in HR who might find themselves in a comparable situation) ought to do next:

Until the perception of HR professionals as functionaries changes to business leaders with HR expertise, this won’t go away. And the only way to change that perception is for HR professionals to start to behave like business people, to speak the language of business people, and to become comfortable with numbers, data and research. The only way for Deeply Disengaged’s experience to change is for them to start to behave like a business person.

Please do head over to China’s blog to read her post in full.

UPDATE 11 (Wednesday 5 June 2013): When you need to give yourself ‘a shake and reality check’ at work, by @jawaddell

Leading Canadian HR blogger Julie Waddell is the latest to weigh in with a post inspired by Deeply Disengaged, entitled My Favourite Whine. As Julie explained to me via Twitter earlier today, her post “evolved from a rant to a cautionary tale” during the writing process.

My Favourite Whine is highly recommended. In this brave and searingly honest post, Julie relives a moment from her past career that forced her to give herself “a shake and reality check.” She says:

That situation left me with a scar that will never leave me and for that I’m grateful.

Please do take the time to read what Julie says here. I’d imagine all of us have been through something like this at some point. I applaud Julie for sharing this story. And if what Julie says resonates with you, please do get in touch with her and let her know how!

Do you have any advice for Deeply Disengaged? Please get in touch!

If you have any words of advice for Deeply Disengaged, please do get in touch and share them! Unfortunately, our comments facility appears to be being affected by gremlins at the moment. I apologise for the inconvenience to anybody that has so far tried to post a comment. While this is being investigated, if you could please e-mail me your comments instead, I will add them as soon as is possible. Or if you prefer social media, I’d be delighted to hear from you via Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+.

UPDATE 12 (Friday 5 July 2013):  Deeply Disengaged replies to the global HR community: ‘Connections can help to empower you’
I’m delighted to report that Deeply Disengaged has written a wonderful follow-up post, responding to the generous advice proffered by so many members of the global HR community. Please do spare a moment or two to read it, it is quite superb: Deeply Disengaged replies to the global HR community: ‘Connections can help to empower you’.

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