When I was young, I loved getting up early on Saturday mornings to watch cartoons !! They were fantastic. I would get a bowl of cereal and sit in front of the glowing screen for hours. I especially enjoyed Looney Toons with the hilarious characters of ranging from Bugs Bunny to Daffy Duck. They were five to seven minutes of incredible action, story line and humor. Most of the humor, to be honest, was above my head. That didn’t matter though because they were so different than the other shows that were on.
One of my favorite cartoons was Robin Hood Daffy which featured Daffy Duck as Robin Hood and Porky Pig as Friar Tuck. Daffy is exasperated to prove to Porky that he is, in fact, Robin Hood. Porky is suspicious and thinks that Daffy is a bumbling buffoon who is far from the hero who robs from the rich and gives to the poor. Most of the cartoon proves that Porky is right.
In one scene Daffy is crossing a log over a stream with a long stick which he uses for several moves, but ends up hitting himself in the face and bending his bill back towards his face. He tries the moves over and over with the same result. He even talks his way through it with confidence exclaiming, “Ho! Ha ha! Guard! Turn! Parry! Dodge! Spin! Ha! Thrust!,” and then “Sproing!” his bill snaps back. During this endless, futile exercise, Porky steps up with a small stick and thwarts Daffy by inserting it into his moves during his spin. It’s hilarious !!
The reason I bring this up is that I find that most HR people spend so much time going through much of the same futile regimen that Daffy Duck does with the same result. Instead of being intentional and direct with people we dodge, spin, guard, parry and thrust. The only thing missing is screaming the “Ho Ha !!” distraction. Doesn’t that just tire you out? The constant maneuvering to skirt along the edges of employee interactions just in case you’re called into action. Inevitably, an employee comes up with their small stick and throws you into the stream.
HR should never be the buffoon that has to try to prove who they are either. It’s another giant waste of energy and time. We are looking for constant affirmation and acknowledgement by those that may, or may not, matter within the organization. This too is tiring and is discouraging for those who practice Human Resources.
Look, it’s a New Year. Let’s not be the Looney Toon character anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I think there’s immeasurable room for humor, color and animation !! Those things bring life to ourselves, others and organizations as a whole. I would just encourage you to no longer go through wasted motions that seem like thrashing around just to be seen as busy. Be intentional. Be among your employees. Be spectacular and give them the HR professional they deserve !! When you do that, you’ll be working alongside the great people you have and quit having to pull yourself out of the stream.