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Hallmark Moments

Hallmark movie season seldom disappoints. And by disappoint, I mean that it’s usually filled with consistent themes sprinkled with some surprises in its programming, comforting us by what we can expect. It has in fact disappointed in the traditional sense with some questionable plots, including those with problematic power dynamics which could be devastating in the workplace.

So far this year, two movies have stood out to me: Holiday Road and Christmas on Cherry Lane. I won’t spoil them (as if that’s hard to do) but I will say that both made me feel nostalgic in the best ways about human kindness, the need for connection, and perspective through hindsight. Although the movies mentioned have the expected “complications”, they explore deeper dynamics through community and lifting others up.  They also challenge first impressions and assumptions as not always accurate.

As I watched them, I thought about my perspective on how far we’ve come at our organization, particularly at one of our business units. In 2020, it was only four years old. I mention 2020 because that was a pivotal year in my HR career, not just because of COVID, but because of the gains in relationship building and trust that happened within that relatively new business unit.

Prior to late 2019, maintaining a collaborative and proactive relationship with some of the leadership** seemed like a struggle. I didn’t find out things I needed to know until after the fact, decisions where I should have been involved were sometimes made in vacuum without my input which resulted in more “clean up” work for me, and there seemed to be a general us (corporate) vs them (operations) culture brewing. I was unhappy. They were unhappy. We were tripping over the roadblocks we’d created. To say that it was a frustrating time is an understatement. I don’t know if any of you have ever experienced these things but it’s not fun.

The leadership team and I made meaningful strides towards the end of 2019 through a lot of introspection and vulnerability. We learned to accept each other’s feedback as well meaning, even when some of the feedback hurt to hear. We decided to set aside our egos and force ourselves to work together. At first, it was performative but the more we committed to this process, the easier it got. By the time March 2020 rolled around, we were in a much better place and it showed. If we were a Hallmark movie, that step towards vulnerability and intentional choice to get over ourselves was the resolution to the complication. It couldn’t have happened at a better time.

Fast forward to the end of 2020. I was mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted from all things COVID like most if not all HR practitioners. I wanted 2020 to be over and in my mind, nothing good could come out of 2020. Then it happened…

At the end of the year, this business unit selects a corporate employee as that year’s “superstar”. For 2020, they chose me! It felt like the moment at the end of a Hallmark movie where someone’s giving a deeply emotional speech and the listener is bawling. That is how it played out. I cried. I sure did.

Since then, we’ve had hiccups along the way. When that happens, we call it out and have committed to never get back to that place where we couldn’t trust each other. So far so good. I aim to be their HR superstar, even when there is not a plaque involved. I get there with them; they get there with me too!

** The leadership has given me explicit permission to share 😊

What's your hallmark moment at work?

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Marisa Tesch
Marisa Tesch
Dec 16, 2023


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