You know you’ve said this. You may have even said it today to start the work week !! We wish others would just “get it” because we sure know that WE do !! I’m serious. We want others to just know what to do because we’ve covered it over and over and over (or so we tell ourselves.)
This approach isn’t just true at work. We want others to know how to do things because we told them to do it at home, in our civic activities, at church, at school – almost any environment has the issue of “assumed culture.” This is when the people who have been around for some time assume that others get what to do through some form of mystical symbiosis, and then we get upset when they don’t do things right.
People, more than ever, are frustrated in their jobs and with their companies. As an HR person, I hear this frustration coming from the C-Suite down to the front line on a daily basis. Almost every day I can place the shared frustrations to assumed culture. You see, we strive to make people conform because we feel that if everyone is pretty much the same, then things will go more smoothly.
However, this just isn’t the case. I don’t know if there are things such as HR “formulas”, but if their were, I would have one that goes like this:
Assumed Culture = Conformity which lessens Diversity or AC = Cf < D
This weekend my Boy Scout Troop camped near Old Man’s Cave in Logan, Ohio in the Hocking Hills State Forest. One of the natural formations is called the Devil’s Bathtub.
The waterflow of the river that goes through the park rushes rapidly toward this formation and the water’s force has cut it into the constantly swirling whirlpool until it forces the water out this small opening several feet under the opening. This is very reminiscent of how your employees feel when they are told they should “just know how to” do things.
This week take a new approach. TEACH don’t TELL. It may be frustrating to cover the same things more than once, but teaching people what to do and how the assumed culture works at your organization will make them better performing team members. The time it takes is far more rewarding than building the frustration that eats at you !! Try it out and let me know what happens . . .
One observation I’ve had about HR professionals is that they have historically been very isolated both professionally and personally. This has to be either by choice or by design within organizations. This observation continues to be affirmed when I attend conferences of any size. HR people seem astonished that others would intentionally like to be connected to them.
Something I’ve been trying at my work, and toying with in general is this philosophy – Model the behavior you expect in others.
To that end, I’d like to talk to you about the Inner Sanctum !! (cue scary theme music) What I mean by this is that I have a tight knit group of HR professionals who make up my personal inner sanctum. This isn’t a “Personal Board of Directors” as you may have seen in other blogs. There is something more substantial to this group. They have some incredible shared characteristics that I think are essential for this to work. They are:
- They all challenge me in some way !! – These are boundary stretching folks and I need that in order to not remain stagnate myself.
- They are willing to be candid !! – They speak their minds openly both positively or critically. They aren’t afraid to address my blind spots.
- They are consistent !! – Each of them is incredibly consistent while remaining creative and unpredictable. They each have strengths that I learn from.
- They are all genuine !! – Something I cherish in others is to be “who you are.” These folks don’t have pretense and don’t support it in others.
- They are all my friends !! – I mean that. We talk about all things in our lives. Families, work, faith, ups, downs, etc. All subjects are regularly discussed.
Without this group of people to gird me in what I do in HR and business, I would be less effective. It’s just a fact. I think that having folks you can count on is a professional differentiator. This isn’t networking or being in a clique. It’s intentional, fascinating and exhilarating !!
This week step out. Start looking at who would make up your Inner Sanctum and then pursue it. If you choose to do this, you’ll see a marked difference in how HR looks, feels and acts !! I hope you do it and let me know if you do !!
As I’m typing this post, many of my peers and friends are enjoying the SHRM11 Annual Conference. Yes, I am jealous because I always enjoy being with others who share my passion of HR !! The tweets that are flying under the #SHRM11 hashtag are great to read, but they lack in that personal experience. Ah, well, maybe next year . . .
The question I want to pose to the 14,000+ HR pros who have gathered at SHRM11 is . . . Will it Make a Difference?
Will attending the largest gathering of those in your profession change how you approach HR when you return to your various workplaces? When the lights and sites of Las Vegas dissapate, will you be making more of an impact in HR, or will you go back to the norms and ways you are following today?
I hope it transforms you !! You can’t miss the chance to attend events like this and not come away with great things like new contacts, a broader vision of what HR offers, a new way to tilt the windmills that face you on a daily basis !! Don’t just get enamored by the great keynotes, the great vendor events and the endless piles of swag you’ll take home from the Exhibit Hall.
Use this time away from the office this week to come back energized, enthusiastic and willing to move your company forward !!
If people don’t do this, we will continue to fight a stereotype that I personally heard this week from a question I posted on Focus.com regarding development vs. training. A person responded that HR has to first “get it’s act together” before focusing on either topic. I responded to this person and was pretty pointed that I didn’t appreciate his stance on our field. He’s entitled to say what he’d like, but it eats at me that anyone continues to think that HR doesn’t “get it.”
So, don’t disappoint me you 14,000+ HR folks attending SHRM11 !! I know you’ll have a wonderful time, meet and catch up with wonderful peers . . . just remember to come back and make a difference personally, professionally and for HR as a whole !! I can’t wait to see what you’ll do !!