HR has a come a long way – I mean it’s not even HR anymore…People Ops, Talent Management, Employee Experience. But no matter the title, we need to challenge ourselves to make sure we focus on the ways we can drive value for our organizations, even if it means we don’t do the new cool trends in our field or the fun project we really want to do for our own rockstar status.
I remember a few years back I got the opportunity to create a new manager and leadership training program from scratch. I was beyond excited, energized and would stay up all hours to keep working on something because I was loving the work so much. I presented this completed program design, schedule and content to my HR Partners and they look at me like I have two heads. Sure, I did a needs analysis of what the managers needed, but I never asked my HR peers what they (or the teams) could actually support. I was crushed. But it was my own fault. I put myself in a bubble and didn’t think about what was actually possible or what was going to have the most impact at that moment. But I also didn’t in the feedback loop of how the first couple of sessions might go. Or how our team would respond to the new platform of attending sessions via a webinar. I spent way too much time designing without testing and iterating. Ever since then, I always look at projects in phases. Try it, get feedback, learn and adjust. You can always expand and grow a program. But don’t put all the work into something you don’t know is going to work.
But on the flip side, we also need to make sure we are thinking outside the box and not just doing something because we are supposed to based on everything we have learned in our careers. A perfect example is performance reviews. I talk to a lot of my peers and we all want to get outside of the traditional formats, even get rid of ratings, but then how do you think about calibration and definition of “good” and then…salary increases! It’s stressful for sure and it won’t be easy. Some managers will need a lot of hand holding and we will need to flat out call them out when they are being biased. But imagine the world after that first cycle or two where people are focused more on development and actually taking in the feedback and not obsessing about what number they got. And where increases are fair because they know they are amazing, not if they are #1 or #2 on the team. It takes thinking space and the right culture and leadership team, but we don’t have to do things just because we are supposed to…not just for HR sake.
I had a great chance to talk to Bruce Marable on the Employee Cycle Podcast about this exact thing. I share more about the stories above and how I have tried to not just do HR for HR sake and really focus on what our team and our culture needs at that time!