HR is as HR does !!

Over the weekend I was channel surfing (because I don’t have Netflix – no one pass out) to see if something would pop up, and I came upon one of my all-time favorite films, Forrest Gump. I stopped at the point in the film when Forrest is in Vietnam and he runs back into the jungle many times to save his best buddy Bubba, and ends up saving many of the men in his platoon.  My skeptical 17 year-old son wanted to me to change the channel, but I asked to let me see just this one scene.  He was hooked and we ended up watching the rest of the movie.

I love the movie because Forrest has such a fresh outlook on life and it made me think that we could take many lessons from the film as we practice HR.

When I’m around most of my HR friends, I hear them bemoan how difficult EVERYONE is to deal with – when it’s actually only a few people.  I also hear people try to one up others with tales of employee misconduct.  The stories that are more shocking and/or vulgar seem to gather crowds !!

I don’t think living in an environment of constant truth or dare scenarios helps us personally or professionally.  If we only see the bad things around us, or the flaws and negative characteristics of others, how can we ever hope to move an organization forward?  It’s no wonder people cast a negative light on HR when all they hear are HR horror stories.

Forrest GumpWhat if we saw life as Forrest did?  Sure, the movie is filled with a character who “happens” to experience almost every single major historical event in the U,S, personally, but it’s a movie.  If you notice, Forrest isn’t swayed by his good fortune, his fame, or his run ins with Presidents or other famous people.  He takes it in stride.  This is also true when the dips in life hit him and he experiences loss of his mother and his beloved Jenny.

We come across opportunities every day to interact with great people.  What’s our mindset when we’re about to meet with them?  Are we burdened by it?  Do we think the worst is sure to happen even before we talk to anyone?  Do we jump to extremes and make broad-based decisions, policies and procedures because the interaction we just had should become the law of the land for all people going forward (even though it was an exception to how work usually goes)?

Forrest is unflappable.  The only time he struggled with his situation was when Jenny introduces him to his son and Forrest worries if his son is smart or not. I think that he would have loved him either way, but it was obvious he didn’t want his son to face the same challenges he did in how people saw him as stupid – or less than others who were “normal.”  He always responded “Stupid is as stupid does.”

Think about it becoming HR is as HR does.  Forrest always let his actions show his intent and genuine approach toward life.  We should do the same.  HR’s behavior needs to be unflappable and able to not only take life in stride, but enjoy it because we never know what the next step will be.

Forrest thought his life turned out exactly like it should have.  It was filled with extraordinary adventures which he thought were just normal situations.  He wasn’t fazed.  It’s a fabulous approach each day and something I’d encourage each of you to try !!  Every person we meet may be an incredible adventure just waiting to happen.  Don’t miss it !!

“And that’s all I have to say about that.”

11 thoughts on “HR is as HR does !!”

  1. Great insights Steve. Forrest always saw every situation as something fascinating to be explored. It never occurred to him that there was any other course of action but to help, see the best in people and take action to improve the situation. Even in the simple act of sitting on a bench and talking about a box of chocolates.

    That’s why I am such a fan of Appreciative Inquiry and developing a positive focused culture. It gives you tools to get people to change their perspective and explore the power of concentrating on what works and doing more of it.

  2. Great comment and analogy! I have watched Forrest Gump many times and I also love how he sees life like a box of chocolates. I would venture to say HR is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you gonna get. It is true, as HR professionals we have the luxury of dealing with people across the entire organization and each interaction will bring a unique experience. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Steve,
    Thanks for insight. This is one of my favorite movies of all time. You seem to be challenging HR professionals to tap into and begin to BELIEVE in our power of influence to help facilitate change within our organizations. I believe oftentimes HR professionals fall into the trap of “gatekeepers” instead of change agents. We do experience “horror stories” but we forget to share how we develop viable solutions and help bring out change. Make a concentrated effort to celebrate your success and enjoy the journey!

  4. Great insight. If HR would have this outlook in their interaction with leadership, I believe leadership would see HR and its employees in a different but positive light.

  5. Great! I needed to read this! I recommend reading Lori Kleiman’s HR You Can Use, and lately it’s been a daunting task to learn how to keep HR at our small level and keep it affordable. It’s all so serious, but this post was just what I needed! I can do this!

  6. I happened to see Forrest Gump in its entirety about a month ago and I totally agree with your advice.

    Forrest did what was right, what was noble and what was good in his mind. He did not waiver about what others thought about him or the achievements he accomplished. We need to see our peers and co-workers for the strengths they have to offer rather than focus only on the “objectives or goals” that did not meet the grade.

    We can learn a thing or two from Forrest Gump!

  7. Great minds must think alike, because I caught Forrest Gump as well over the weekend and I felt the same way as you. There are so many life lessons we can learn from Forrest Gump. In fact, I’m working on my own post about these lessons. It is such a deep and inspirational movie. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Agree! Recently having the opportunity to revise our Performance Management policy, I did a lot of research on what other organizations had in their PM policy. So much was focused on under-performance and how to manage these employees. Very little focus was placed on managing strengths and rewarding and recognizing good performers, which is exactly where most of the time should be spent!

    Maybe if we shifted the focus to a more positive mindset as opposed to focusing on the negative, we’d see better performance as well as engagement among our employees.

  9. Loved it Steve! So very true and thrilled to be reminded. Each person is an amazing gift. We just need to remember to meet them where they are but not leave them there. Hopefully each is better off for having crossed our path!

  10. Great message to share!

    Forrest Gump is a movie for generations with life lessons for all areas of business, not just HR. The Leadership Role Forrest takes, without even being aware, with his Jenny, his best friend Bubba, and Lt. Dan. Forrest leads each as an agent of change through their greatest of life’s challenges. A Servant Leader is one who serves others first; making sure their needs are met while leading to higher levels of performance and empowerment.

    Forrest does this all throughout the movie and we should do the same for all those we connect with, not just from the role of HR.

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