There are not many people who have more experience working in HR than Tim Sackett. When he was nine years old, Sackett’s mother opened HRU Technical Resources, a technical staffing company based in Lansing, MI. He was in charge of sending out the “Dear John,” thanks-but-no-thanks letters to rejected candidates. Sackett was paid five cents for every envelope he stuffed with a Dear John letter.
When he graduated from college, Sackett says, “I started working in my mom’s company as a ‘research assistant,” which in 1993 is what a ‘sourcer’ is today. I found the talent and turned it over to a technical recruiter to do the rest.” He worked his way up to account manager, but in 2001, Sackett’s mother decided he needed a “real” job where he could gain the additional experience needed to eventually run the company.
So, he went to work in corporate HR and recruiting for Pamida, a regional retailer based in Omaha, NE. For the next 10 years, Sackett worked in corporate positions with ShopKo Stores, Applebee’s, and Sparrow Health Systems, before returning to HRU to take the reigns as the company’s president.
So what does he think is the most important role of HR in an organization? “In my mind, the only job we have in HR is to increase the talent of the organization.” Sackett says this can be accomplished in a number of ways, such as recruiting, retention, development, etc. “But, if you’re not doing something that makes the talent better, you shouldn’t be in HR,” he passionately declared.
Another one of his passions is The Tim Sackett Project, a slightly-snarky, thoroughly-engaging blog born out of his disenchantment with human resources back in 2009. At the time, Sackett stumbled upon Kris Dunn’s The HR Capitalist blog and felt an immediate connection. “Kris wrote blog posts like they were coming directly out of my brain! He wrote the stuff I wanted to say in a corporate setting, but couldn’t.”
Soon after discovering Dunn’s blog, the two met, and Dunn asked Sackett to write for his other blog, Fistful of Talent. He became a regular contributor on FOT, and eventually Dunn talked Sackett into starting his own blog. In fact, it was Dunn who actually named the blog. “I had a fear of starting it, then wanting to quit, so he said just call it ‘The Project,’ so you can quit at any time and just say the project is over.” Sackett says the rest is history and he’s been writing every day.
Since Sackett has been marinated in HR from an early age, we asked him to reveal three HR “rules.”
Say ‘Yes’ to everything. “Everyone expects HR to say ‘No,’ but when you say ‘Yes,’ people are more willing to come to you and engage you. It’s a simple change in language that can pay huge dividends.” Sackett says he would never tell a hiring manager that they couldn’t fire a person – even if he knew they didn’t have proper documentation. “I would say, ‘Yes, you can fire that person, and here’s how I’m going to help you do that ….”
Take the door off the HR department. “Almost every HR department I’ve ever seen is behind a locked door. There isn’t a need for this.” Sackett says that today, everything is protected by passwords and firewalls, so HR departments should open their doors and let their employees in. “Have an Open House in HR – order some cookies – invite people down. We’re supposed to be the people people, and we lock ourselves behind doors.”
Take at least one non-HR person in your organization to lunch every month. Sackett says that HR needs to be cross-functional and lead the rest of the organization, but this only happens through relationships, and relationships are created during lunches and coffee breaks. “The great thing about being in HR is when you call someone and say, ‘Hey, meet me for lunch!’ they never say ‘No.’ To do great HR work you need help from IT, Marketing, Finance, etc. You only get that help if people in those areas know you and like you. Go to lunch!”