You may or may not know this, but I grew up on a farm. My grandparents raised my brother and I in beautiful Luckey, Ohio (population now of 1,019 !!). It was about half that when I was growing up. My mom worked full time after the passing of my father. We didn’t think anything was “different” with this situation. We LOVED the farm !!
I still love visiting the farms of my relatives. The smells, sounds and general feel of rural life still has a strong allure !! One of my favorite places on a farm is the barn. Barns are incredible places with their nooks, hidden passages, farm equipment, animals, and the obligatory farm cats that just “appear” out of nowhere it seems.
Barns are treasured by farmers. They are incredible structures that seem to weather the test of time. It takes an amazing amount of effort and time to keep a barn in working condition though. They are usually massive buildings, and just to keep them painted is a monumental effort of time and money.
Because of that, barns too often fall into disrepair as the farm (and farmer) age. You’ve seen the barns that make up the landscape as you drive through the country. It’s sad to see this because, at one time, something amazing happened in this essential component of the farm’s daily activities !!
When I see these falling architectural giants, I think of the things that once had meaning and value at work, especially in HR !! You can think of those systems, approaches, policies and procedures that you never change. Chances are they make up the vast majority of your handbooks !! Our company’s landscape is littered with collapsing barns and we just won’t let them go. We think that if we still hold onto them, the glorious past of what once was will magically resurrect itself.
We need to change our approach. Time to build new barns. Not ones that will last forever, but ones that will move our profession and our companies forward. The great thing about barn building on a farm is that it brings everyone together as well !! Make sure you see that the community you serve is involved. Let them bring their own building materials so that this new structure serves everyone !!
So, this week, pull out that handbook and review the collapsing barn you have. See what hasn’t been used, or is even relevant anymore. Tear it down. People will appreciate it. In its place build something new, exciting and effective !! You will be better for it !!