What’s Your Take on Trench HR? Hard or Easy?

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This blog was originally posted by Dave Ryan on the Peformance I Create blog. Twice a month Blogging4Jobs will feature a guest post from the up-and-coming multi-contributor blog, Performance I Create. 

I have been watching what my fellow team members here at #PICHR have been talking about this month, and there is a lot of dialogue about stuff that is going on in the trenches of HR.  Trench HR is not my term, I am borrowing it from my friend Charlie Judy (consider this as proper attribution), only because I think it so represents what myself and so many folks do, day in and day out.

Sportscaster extraordinaire John Madden always made the case about how football games were won and lost on the line of scrimmage – in the trenches. This is where the most important part of the game is played, although the players here don’t get the fanfare and the notoriety that the big play guys get.

The play in the trenches is mean and rough. People that play here get hurt, and they are fine with that because they know that happens when you play hard and give every play all you got.  The accolades are few and the criticisms many. In the trenches of HR, work is hard most days.  If you are not practicing HR in a fortune 500 company and are out in the fray everyday, you know this.

For those of us in the trenches, many days are spent doing other people’s bidding, cleaning up their mess, trying to put the wheels back on the wagon (speaking metaphorically here of course). How often does anyone comment on an effective training program, compared to the number of times  something is said about a foolish injury which occurs to an employee who continues to disobey rules?  This is the same employee that you will have to most likely terminate someday because of their affinity for breaking rules.

I was in a conference session one day and the presenter asked, “How many people have ever had to lay off or terminate more than 50 people in a day?”  About half of the hands in the room went up.  This is not news to anyone in the trenches, but that is just a butt ugly day, no matter how insensitive you think you have become! So here is what I know. HR in the trenches is hard – and it ain’t for the faint of heart either!

If you are looking for a pat on the back, chances are you are in the wrong place. If you want to get the press like the quarterbacks, the running backs or the wide receivers, then I suggest you become a consultant, a speaker or a professor, because then you can just talk about the trenches without having to live in them everyday.

For those of us left behind in the trenches, we will continue to push on everyday; working on that handbook, holding the employee orientations, making sure the I9 is filled out properly and seeing that all of the appropriate training is getting done (even when their supervisors fights you on it). So we aren’t all that different than the people in this old commercial.

Here’s to all my friends in the HR Trenches – This Buds for You!

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  1. Thank you for this post! I work in the trenches and this post was great to read after a couple of hard days. Thanks for sharing! And thank you for working in the trenches too.


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