Delete the inapplicable?


The umpteenth registration form for a recreational camp for one of my kids was recently shoved under my nose. Figuratively that is, because this camp had gone digital. Mother’s surname, mother’s first name, address – everything seemed to be going fine. All the information fit into the field that was provided (since I refuse to disclose my middle names).

And then came the field “profession”, with room for a limited number of characters – special characters were not allowed. I needed to think about this… how was I going to fit all the fun things I do as part of my professional life and all the things that I consciously combine (because I believe in the added value of combinations) into this one, tiny field?

Delete the inapplicable?

I tried that on this form. But it’s impossible to find one word that covers my many roles. Planning and HR must be combined, if you don’t want to deploy co-workers like chess pieces and if you want to keep an eye on projects and development paths. HR and marketing must be combined, because you cannot attract the right people if you cannot get the right message about your company across. HR and writing a book can be combined, because if you want to stimulate entrepreneurship amongst your co-workers then you must give some space and set a good example.

And I’m not alone. When I look around, I see a number of my colleagues combining lots of things. Within the job as well as outside the job. A consultant in government projects who fully participates in internal HR discussions about employee mobility and by doing so brings innovative insights into her own projects. A payroll manager who is a co-pioneer of everything related to Think Green. It’s her way of performing her job from behind a desk as well as connecting with everyone in the organisation. An office manager who leaves her office one day a week and helps out with the internal accounting. This gives her much better insights into how the company operates. A consultant who is developing a start-up alongside his daily job.

Crossovers… because it’s allowed!

Consciously combining things, crossovers on multiple levels to become even better, is horizon-expanding for the worker and for the company. This phenomenon is becoming more widespread, and smart people have given it a name: “slash” careers. You’re not only “this” you’re also “that”. It’s a conscious decision because you believe that the power of combining things can lead to maximisations. Multi-focus is allowed and it’s possible!

Due to a lack of room on the registration form and because the system refused to accept a “slash”, I stuck with “HR” on the form. But, dear camp organisers, please note that this is not all I’m busy with. Allow me to embrace the profession “HR/Planning/author/MKT”. And allow me to conclude with a tip for the developers of the “profession” field: make this field large enough and allow for a “slash”… times are changing and we’d better embrace them!

Do you want to read more about how one can combine things, and how that doesn’t have to go hand in hand with frustrations? #levenkanjeleren – Veerle Valaert, Jasmine De Coninck, Evy De Baerdemaeker, Nathalie Vermassen – published by Borgerhoff&Lamberigts – first edition May 2016, second edition December 2016.

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