The July HR (Cincinnati) Roundtable had a unique facet about it because it marked the beginning of the 20th year of me being the facilitator of the forum. What started as a group of 15 people around a few, sparse tables has turned into a monthly gathering of 125+ people discussing various relevant and “hot” topics. To commemorate this next year, the July Roundtable was discussing – What should HR look like in 2020?
Now, we’re only a few months out from this new decade, but there’s still time to share thoughts and ideas. So, I posed the following questions to get the conversations started.
What should HR stop doing?
What should HR continue doing?
What should HR start doing?
People couldn’t wait to have their thoughts and opinions captured about how to reshape human resources. It was fun to see everyone so engaged. When the large group reconvened, here’s what they had to share.
What Should HR STOP Doing?
Stop being “Policy First, People Second” — We honestly could stop the summary with this statement alone. The days of HR leading with policy first should disappear. It’s antiquated and has never been effective. This isn’t a call for policies to not exist. You need structure and parameters for people. They just shouldn’t be the leading factor for you when you’re in the midst of employee situations.
Stop fearing external partners — Vendors and HR exist in the same space. We can either approach this as adversaries or partners. That is true for both HR and vendors. The more we realize that we complement each other, the more effective we can be for both our organization and our vendor’s company. We need to work on how this looks as mutual partners and stop approaching it as a product/purchase interaction.
Stop being the company police — We have to realize that people want to perform and do well. We should assume positive intent instead of thinking we control others. Control is a myth. Just think how HR would be viewed if the expectation is to help people thrive and perform versus all of our time being spent on confinement and following rules.
Stop talking about people — and start talking TO people. Gossip and idle conversations about people are destructive. You may not be doing this as HR (and I hope you aren’t), but we also allow it to occur at all levels of the company. If there are concerns about someone, then do this. Listen to everyone involved, assess the situation and then address folks directly. Stop talking around situations and people. It’s never worked.
Stop keeping HR inside HR — HR shouldn’t be a department that exists on the fringes of an organization that is only used when and if it’s needed. You don’t want to keep being the people that are only sought after in dire emergencies or dumpster fires. It’s another example of being irrelevant as a function personally, professionally and organizationally. HR needs to be present, visible and fully integrated throughout every nook and cranny of a company!
What Should HR CONTINUE Doing?
Continue listening — People inside organizations needs someone who is consistent, safe and approachable. You can be this if you are someone who truly listens and focuses on people when you encounter them. This could be for serious interventions/situations as well as when you’re out mingling with people. Listening is an on-going skill. It’s not only for situations that are “serious.”
Continue coaching — HR practitioners connect dots. Those dots are usually people. Every time you encounter someone is an opportunity to coach. When you take this approach, then you are more likely to look forward to conversations with employees regardless of their role, level or title. People want to have others who will interact, listen and coach them. It’s far more effective when it’s informal.
Continue being “in the moment” — Steve shared a lesson he learned from someone years earlier when it came to being in the moment. The person shared that you should always “Be there when they’re there.” In other words, remove the distractions that so easily pull us in far too many directions. Be present for others when you interact with them. Get off your phone, your email and your other work. All of those things will still be there after you pay attention to the people who are with you.
Continue removing barriers and obstacles — For some, this may be a “start” activity while others are already in the practice of removing barriers. HR has the ability to remove obstacles for people so they can do their jobs better. This generally involves clearing up lines of communication and clearly defining nuances. That is a phenomenal skill to use with more regularity.
What Should HR START Doing?
Start being a CEO whisperer — HR can’t keep wishing about being at some piece of furniture in order for it to feel that it has credibility. Our role is to make every person succeed including the CEO and senior management. Instead of waiting for them to come to you on a project and/or issue, go to them intentionally and on a regular basis. When you remember that CEO’s and senior managers are employees, then you have a healthier framework to work from. Don’t elevate someone because of a title. Respect it and express that you can help them succeed just as you do for others.
Start shepherding the culture — HR can “lead” the culture by being the rudder on a ship. The company is the ship and you can help shape and maneuver key behaviors such as how people should treat each other, how we should assume the best in others and how we can interact positively. You can also help organizations by shepherding people through conflict and/or crisis.
Start allowing people to be themselves — There are countless posters and employee handbooks that state that people can bring their entire self to work. It isn’t true. We are afraid of what that looks like and assume the worst. This needs to change. You can do this by expressing the norms and parameters for working at your company. Then allow people to bring themselves to work. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the amazing people who have been waiting to not have a work face and a life face. Try it and see the positive outcomes. You’ll have a culture that others from outside your company will want to join.
Start having fun! — It’s unfortunate that this has to continue to be stated. HR is fun and so are people. Yes, employees are messy, but they are also wonderful. Also, you need to remember that YOU are an employee as well. Set a new standard by enjoying your work and the others around you. You’ll be astonished at how much of a genuine differentiator this is.
The feedback from the group gave everyone a great framework to review and implement as we head into a brand-new decade next year. Let’s hope that we use the Stop/Start/Continue model on a regular basis as a tool to do some solid reflection about our profession and how we practice HR.