Being an HR professional means being able to handle the ups and downs—like being on a roller coaster. It means being creative and finding ways to work with people who may not always be easy to work with. It’s a difficult job but I love it and would never trade it for anything else.
One of the biggest challenges I’ve had as an HR professional happened early on in my career when I had to organize a teambuilding retreat. It was an experience I still remember to this day, not just because it was challenging, but because I put all of my heart into it.
I was in my first year at an IT company when my CEO sent me an email asking me to organize a teambuilding retreat for all of the coordinators in the company. Since I was new to the HR profession, I had little concept of how to make it a success, so I panicked. The fact that there was so much internal head-butting and different personalities within the company didn’t help.
I knew I had my work cut out for me so I started planning right away. There were lots of things to coordinate—logistics, accommodations, transportation, trainers—but the most difficult part was determining the training needs. I had to figure out what to focus on to maximize the limited time the employees had to spend on the exercises.
I knew there was a lot of miscommunication and mistrust among the employees, so I decided an exercise on effective communication was crucial. Then I moved on to the participants’ roles. They were all coordinators, so I chose an exercise on management. Finally, the retreat was about making everyone feel part of the team, so we spent a day playing teambuilding games. I also created a symbol for the teambuilding retreat: a tree. The roots represented our common ground, being part of the same company; the branches represented each individual, separate (every person is different and unique) yet connected at the same time; the leaves on top were interconnected, representing our common objectives.
The teambuilding retreat was a total success. People had fun, they learned, they loved the training sessions, they bonded, they felt comfortable and confident talking about their issues, and to my great joy they accepted me as a part of the team and were grateful to me for putting so much thought and energy into the retreat.
I learned a lot of lessons during the planning and executing of that teambuilding retreat. I learned to trust myself but also ask for help. I learned that when you put your whole heart into something, chances are it will turn out great. And I learned that if you’re good to people, they’ll be good to you too. It was one of the best experiences of my professional and personal life, which set the stage for how I would approach my HR career from then on—with confidence, an open heart and a willingness to accept whatever challenges are presented to me.
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