18 Things I Wish We Would STOP Doing in Human Resources…

by Alan Collins – http://successinhr.com
I’m going to rant in this article so be prepared.
If we want to improve both the impact of HR and the success of the organizations we support, we must put our foot down and STOP doing some things.Below is my list of 18 things that I think are just plain asinine.

1.  Let’s stop accepting garbage in HR. Human Resources cannot be where people go when they’ve failed everywhere else…or can’t find meaningful employment.  Let’s start demanding the absolute best and the brightest in our function, just like everyone else.

2.  Let’s stop cutting the “workers” before cutting the “work itself” and then pretending we’ve improved productivity. Sure, it’s looks great on the P&L.  Wall Street loves that we’ve cut heads. But have we really improved the organization when 30 “survivors” are doing the work that 50 FTE’s used to do and are suffering in silence and so frustrated they’re suicidal.

3.  Let’s stop creating workarounds for bad managers. Let’s start expecting them to behave like paid professional leaders.  Let’s stop giving them hall passes to avoid giving performance reviews, adequate feedback or having candid career discussions with their direct reports.  Our job is to help our companies work in the best way possible.  We shouldn’t have to develop policies to make up for “managerial malpractice.”  If they can’t or won’t manage effectively, let’s follow the medical profession model and pull their “license” to manage anyone, forever!

4.  Let’s stop using words like “human capital.” (I admit, I’m guilty of this myself, so I take the pledge.)  Let’s start putting the “human” back in Human Resources where it belongs.  Sure, we need to know the business and have financial intelligence.  But we can’t TREAT people like they’re numbers in a Power Point presentation or “human capital” that can be sold off like a stock that’s in free fall.   They’re people, like you and me, with families, fears and aspirations for the future.  And for most of their day, they choose to invest their time and energy in our organizations.  Let’s remind ourselves every day that our unique contribution to the organization’s success is all about people.

5.  Let’s cut the HR and OD jargon, psychobabble and buzzwords — and say things so your grandmother can understand it. Let’s start using plain-speak.  Put a kabosh to the acronyms, and approach every speech, every email, every presentation as an opportunity to show how brilliant you are using your own words and language! Imagine that your grandmother is in the audience. Naturally, she is a very intelligent woman since she has a grandson/daughter like you as an HR professional.  Do you think she understands: organization effectiveness, intellectual capital, rightsizing, core competencies, bandwidth, and my all-time favorite: being strategic. How many regular folks do you communicate with that might be the same as your grandmom?

6.  Let’s stop taking charge of running the holiday party. I’m not suggesting that you be scrooge.  But why should you be the social secretary all the time.  You have a real job with real deliverables.  Let someone else handle it like Finance or Sales.  It’s their turn.

7.  Let’s stop pretending we’re shocked when employees unionize. When you work employees 13 days on and one off; then turn around and lay them off; cut their pay; reduce their benefits; then demand their total loyalty and commitment in an environment populated with Nazi supervisors…you can’t be surprised when they reach out for a little third party representation.

8.  Let’s stop complaining about the lack of HR jobs. Stand in the bright lights where recruiters and headhunters can find you.  They seldom search in the dark alleys.  Join SHRM and the chapter in your city. Get access to every HR directory you can find. Ask yourself who would I call first if I were a recruiter looking for me.  Make that person yourself, your friend and or a referral.

9.  Let’s stop trying to network with our laptops. All relationships have flesh and blood…not keys and a screen.  Linkedin is the the greatest tool ever created for professional networking…I get it and believe in it…but it’s just a tool….you’ve got to get out and meet people.

10.  Let’s stop denying ourselves the chance for true greatness in HR. You don’t have to aspire to the HR C-suite or make millions in base salary in a Fortune 50 company to achieve greatness in HR.   Figure out what greatness means for you.  It’s one of the single most empowering steps you can take in your HR career.  There is no ONE way to achieve greatness in HR except to find a way to be spending your time doing what creates enjoyment in you and others. Do what you’re good at – what you’re passionate about.  And, don’t think that the only way to progress is up.  Just close your eyes and picture what would make you the most happy.  Figure out all the details, then work towards it as a first priority.

11.  Let’s stop working everyday and becoming more and more irrelevant. According to Dave Ulrich, there are six HR leader competencies critical for thriving in today’s economy.  If you don’t master them, you’re Fred Flintstone in a George Jetson world.  They are bulleted below.  Are these in your playbook?  If not, every single day they’re aren’t, you’re falling farther and farther behind.

Credible activist: Earns and maintains the trust of employees and managers, while taking proactive business positions.
Business ally: Possesses a solid understanding of the business financials, strategies, and context to make better decisions.
Strategic architect: Shapes the strategic story and guarantees it is translated into HR practices and leader behaviors.
Operational executor: Ensures things happen on time, every time.
Talent manager and organization designer: Shapes HR practices that deliver talented people and capable organizations.
Change agent: makes change happen and shapes new cultures that link the internal values to external expectations.

12.  Let’s stop pretending that everyone wants to scale up the ladder. When many employees look up they see 100-hour weeks, meeting overload, blackberries on nightstands, and no time for friends and family.  And it’s not only women who are saying no to the ladder up; men are as well.  Many are opting to customize success for themselves, not climb someone else rungs.  Do we have any solutions for this as HR leaders?

13.  Let’s stop thinking that office politics is about backstabbing. The people who are the most successful at office politics tend to be genuinely pretty cool and nice.  Office politics is about helping people to get what they want. This means you have to take the time to listen, figure out what someone cares about, and then think about how you can help him or her to get it.  It does require having your ears open for when you can help. If you do this, you don’t have to trample over people or manipulate them. Your genuine, authentic caring will inspire people to want to help you when you need it.

14.  Let’s stop thinking that doing good work alone is good enough. For one thing, no one knows what the heck you’re doing in your office or cube if you’re not telling them. So when you do good work, let people know.  It is not crazy to toot your own horn–it’s crazy to think someone is going to take the trumpet out of your hands and do it for you.  It’s one of the Unwritten HR Rules.

15.  Let stop thinking that all you need is a good resume. You DO need a good resume but only ten percent of HR jobs come from sending a blind resume. Most people get jobs by leveraging their network. Once you have a connection, the person looks at your resume to make sure there are no red flags. So you need a competent resume and an excellent network. This means you should stop stressing about which verb to use on the second line of your fifth job. Go talk to someone instead.

16.  Let’s stop promoting people to HR leadership roles just because they are technically competent. Sallie may be the greatest recruiter and talent acquisition specialist on earth.  That’s not a reason – by itself – to promote her into a role where she manages a team of thirteen other recruiters.  If all she ever wanted to do was to do her job well and make a little more money in the process…reward her.  Don’t force her to lead a team, which she has no interest in and is killing her slowly.  Solution: Promote people in the organization that have the technical knowledge AND have shown both the potential and interest in leading.

17.  Let’s stop allowing butt-awful leaders to lead teams. Some managers in leadership roles are mean, surly, rude, offensive, and specialize in striking fear into the hearts of the team members.  That’s great if you’re Lex Luthor or some super-villian in a comic book – but not if you’re a paid professional leader.  Why is this allowed?  The answer is always either “they get results”, or “they have been here a long time”.   In today’s competitive organizations, this is not acceptable anymore.  The days of crime bosses are over.  Let’s put our foot down and work with our organizations to require that all leaders lead with influence, clear expectations and inspiration…while still holding their people accountable.   Let’s stop sending the mixed message:  “It’s okay for managers to treat you like scum, but we value you still.”  Yeah, right.

18.  Let’s stop allowing the top executives of the company to think that they don’t need development. In many companies, I hear: “Yes, let’s do diversity and inclusion training, but our Vice Presidents don’t need to attend.” Why not? “Well, they don’t feel that they need training and if they did, it would be an admission that they have skills they need to work on.”  In many organizations, attending training is viewed as a sign of weakness. What the heck is going on here? Just because someone attends training, they’re weak?  Shouldn’t the organization’s commitment to development be viewed as a strong point?  Arrogance and ego are robbing executives of development that they need.  The CEO must model a dedication to development and mandate that every executive get training and development annually.  When the rest of the organization sees that executives are committed to development, then they’ll fall in line too.

As I look over most of these ideas, while most may not breakthrough ideas, all of them are things we should end…immediately.

What do you think?



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