hr… it’s lonely at the top

In reading the latest post from Alison Chisnell, I realised and I guess recalled, what I remember feeling, at a time when I was deep in middle earth HR. That this is a lonely job. It is a tough job, and one you don’t seem to make friends in (it’s just easier that way!)

I mean that in the best possible way. If you think about what we, as HR Professionals get charged with; what we are told, what we do – a lot of that is surrounded by confidentiality, integrity and privacy. If you hear something, or if you are the official holder of information, you are usually where the buck stops. If the CEO has decided to outsource the business, you get told but you can’t tell anyone else. If there is a performance issue with a staff member, same deal. I have even been entrusted with relationships that have needed to be kept secret!

Alison’s post reminded me what it was like, being in a position of managing change within an organisation. It isn’t just HR Professionals who can be isolated, senior management are in the same boat. The saying of it being lonely at the top didn’t just magic it’s way into our phrase books. I’m not talking about HR being the “top” of the business world (although, we all know it should!), or making a point about it being a better role in any organisation (again…..!), but usually, when the heads at the top want some change in the business, we are either the first to know about it from them (preferable), or the first to hear it on the grapevine, possibly because something has been done in a “unique” way. It makes us the top of the tree sometimes, when it would be far easier not to be.

Either way, the idea of HR Professionals talking to each other, supporting each other and sharing our experiences is a healthy one. In the world of Social Media, or in fact most online business, everyone shares everything – results, what to do, how to do it, how not to do it especially! In HR, we tend to want to be the keepers of information. Shared knowledge is a powerful thing. To be the one sharing your own knowledge, helping people out and perhaps lending an ear or a shoulder of support needs to be encouraged. Thanks for the reminder Alison!

4 thoughts on “hr… it’s lonely at the top

  1. Yes, knowledge is powerful when shared, and I believe encouragement is part of a purposeful and enjoyable business, or community, or family, or friendship…

    And most people at or near the top of an organisation choose to isolate themselves. Be confident. Con, with. Fide, faith. Do things with belief. Don’t be arrogant. Ab, away. Rogare, to question. To turn away from questioning. Keeping things confidential when they need to be should not prevent people from getting out there and making a difference.

    When the folks at the top of the business want something different to work, they ask the folks at the bottom, or more importantly at the front, how it should be done. And that cannot happen in isolation.

    Cheers for the opportunity to spout off a bit 🙂



  2. Hi Doug, thanks for the comments. I suppose some people at the top choose to isolate themselves, but I wonder how much of that is because they do feel truly alone and don’t know how to deal with it, or what to do? It could be that they don’t know how to be friendly and managers and strong all at once?!

    Keep spouting, I enjoy it!


  3. The ability to influence is based on the number of people with whom you are connected and with whom you collaborate and being influential isn’t confined to senior positions in an organisation. Knowledge alone isn’t power – it can’t influence it can only boss. It can only be powerful when shared. Being influential is powerful in the most positive sense so for anyone feeling lonely – they are probably feeling that way because they are unconnected.


  4. Powerful thoughts Sarah, thank you! How very true it is. Some of the most unconnected people I know are HR people, ironically! The more we are likely to share anything, the less isolated we will feel. Thanks for taking the time to comment.


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