Work in HR? Then Win or Quit

Ever wondered what the Human Resources Departments ‘WHY’ is?

Many believe it is to eradicate organisational disharmony and so, paradoxically, if you succeed, you do yourself out of a job.

In the picture above, each big arrow represents a whole organisation.

The smaller arrows inside represent the departments or individual employees within the organisation. Organisations with a clearly communicated core purpose, vision, mission and objectives have a commercial advantage over those that don’t. The LEFT arrow doesn’t have these things and will be wasting time effort and money firefighting and curing problems.

The arrow on the RIGHT represents an organisation where everyone understands what ‘WE’ stand for and can see how their day job matters and contributes to the overall purpose.

This organisation has commercial advantage over the other.

Today, executives often turn to their HR team for a ‘cure’ for the symptoms of organisational disharmony - under-productivity, disharmony, blame culture, turf wars, politics, lack of clarity confusion, slow bureaucratic processes, etc. You know the stuff.

However, as with our physical health, we know that prevention is better than cure.

If we only win at curing our problems, we will continue to face them.

If we win at preventing them – we truly win.

Here’s the rub.

Preventing the ills listed - and others requires executive buy-in and competence in the skill of leadership in line with virtually every leadership book ever written.

If an executive team does not recognise this, their organisation will falter against competition that is led by an executive team that does.

I was recently lucky enough to meet Ken Blanchard, the world famous author of ‘The One Minute Manager’, ‘Situational Leadership’ and many other excellent books on leadership and management best practice.

His advice to the HR contingent of this world was beautifully simple...

“If your employees don’t buy in to the need for - or detail of - your company vision, share them with your competition. If your CEO doesn’t, it’s time to sharpen your C.V.”

In other words, Ken was provocatively suggesting the only way HR can prevent disharmony in an organisation is to challenge the CEO to lead organisational culture to understand its purpose, vision, mission and supporting objectives. If the CEO isn't interested, leave.

He said, “if your employees are not clear on your organisation’s purpose and aligned in their actions to achieve it, then shame on your leadership team”.

Shame on your leadership team!!!!

Wow! Strong words. He repeated it a few times and I remember thinking – how right he is.

Ken was presenting ‘Servant Leadership’ as a model for organisational success in the 21st Century but, by his own admission, it’s just another book on leadership best practice.

Rhetorically, he asked, “How many different diet fads do we need to check out before we realise there is only really one way to stay fit and healthy - eat healthy food and exercise regularly.”

Anyhow, he still presented the theory which was refreshingly simple and directed at the MD’s and CEO’s of this world. Here's a summary picture of what it isn't and what it is. The controlling model operates from top down, the servant model from bottom up.

It’s not a new concept - it originates from work by Robert Greenleaf last century who said,

“The servant-leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. The best test is: do those served grow as persons; do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?”

Robert K. Greenleaf

That doesn't mean being soft. My fitness coach serves me - he pushes me really hard and it hurts like hell. The thing is, I know why he drives me hard. It's because I want him to and there's the point.

Servant leaders inspire their people with a common purpose that allows them to ask for excellence - not because the leader says so, but because the employees want to achieve the common purpose.

So, my assertion is simply this :-

If you work in HR and really want to make a difference, then start at the top.

If you want to help build an organisation that prevents disharmony, you need the full weight of your executive team to simplify and communicate the strategic narrative - regularly and with passion.

Only in this way can everyone unite and work INTER-DEPENDENTLY (which is an advanced level of maturity over independent – siloed – operation).

Ask yourself, does your leader make your people feel free to grow and serve those they lead?

If not, there is work to do.

If your leader is open to it, then throw your life into it – Contigo can help.

There is no greater purpose for HR and it is so rewarding to see it work.

If your leader is not open to it, stay at your peril. Yes, you can play the long game but at what cost? You make your own choices in life. Always.

Feel free to get in touch if you would like a free, confidential exploratory conversation - no obligation. I'm with you.

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