Mind-shifting Ideas to Quickly Transcend HR Mediocrity

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I hope I’m not too late.
I wanted to reach you early – before the last year’s left over projects and workload complete their strangle-hold on your inbox and your attention.

I wanted to catch you before your dewy-eyed optimism and resolve to do marvels in the New Year dissipates into frustration and inertia. Sadly becoming the marvellous future that never will be.

I wanted to connect with you before your determination to do better and different slips from your grasp, defaulting to standardised samey HR once again.

I don’t believe I’m too late.

Mediocrity is calling. I’m just in time.

There are four of them according to Seth Godin – and they are on horseback.
The four horsemen of mediocrity.

HR’s Horsemen can look like this…

1. Deniability: That policy was in place when I got here. It’s not my fault. The CEO/GM/EVP decided, commanded or blocked. Not my fault.

2. Helplessness: The CEO/GM/EVP won’t let me make changes. Finance has cut HR’s budget so we can’t recruit/train/develop/reward our employees.

3. Contempt: They don’t pay me enough to put up with the likes of these employees/managers/union representatives/government employment departments.

4. Fear: It’s good enough, it’s not worth the risk, this might not work, let’s just download one from the internet, ignore it, I’m afraid to lose my job/position if I push too hard.

Don’t listen!
Don’t answer!

Hold on. Focus on your breathing.

You got this covered. You have what it takes to:

  • Put the ‘human’ before the ‘resources.
  • Reconnect with what matters to businesses and people.
  • Solve real problems.
  • Create meaning and make a difference.

Take five deep breaths in and out. This calls for courage.

“Of all the human qualities – joy of living, kindness, mercy – courage is the greatest. For without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency.” – Maya Angelou.

If you are still inspired about the possibilities to create value through HR, here is what I want you to do right now.

Read these Mind-shifting Ideas to Quickly Transcend HR Mediocrity.

Find at least one that resonates with you most today.

Immediately put it into action to help you start creating the HR your business needs to grow and thrive.

Take heart friends, this is no goal setting, resolution making how-to guide. Instead we are going deep - deep into the mind. In the battle for the future of HR, the first front line is the mind.  Winning or losing will be determined by the impact, meaning and value-making difference HR is able to contribute - consistently!

Let’s begin. The New Year is already in motion…

Fear or courage? Which mind-set will you choose?

Yes, we live, work and do business in rapidly changing, uncertain and complex times. It’s enough to make your head spin and your breath catch in your throat. Playing possum will not save you or your business from discomfort. You must make a decision. No decision is not a decision by the way.

The war for talent still rages on, the lines between our personal and professional lives continue to blur, our business landscape and world-view is dynamic at best - volatile at its worst AND the future of HR is being written. Exciting times!

What will 'success' mean? Who will be 'successful'?

The ones to watch and follow - the ones from whom to steal-ideas are those individuals who can navigate this reality by crafting simplicity out of complexity.  The new Alchemists!

James Altucher nails it. The choice is between “fear-based decisions and “growth-based decisions”. Here’s what he means.

“I’d make a fear-based decision out of insecurity. Out of a feeling of scarcity. Out of giving too much power to others so they would control my life.
[…]
The growth-based decisions all resulted in miracles I could not have imagined.
A growth-based decision becomes the story of your life later. A fear-based decision turns into regret.”

Will you make fear-based decisions OR growth-based decisions for yourself and your organisation?

What decision will you commit to?

You can read his full article here.

Ditch the emotional crutch: Policies and HR standards can be useful tools to help guide responsible and ethical behaviour in the workplace.

But churning out standard operating procedures to govern human behaviour creates a culture where HR becomes policy enforcer – the status quo police.

This can result in the business being run like a nanny state and stifle creativity.

Alternatively rule-heavy cultures can lead to negative creativity – an environment where employees find increasingly ingenious ways to circumvent and break the rules.

Stop policy proliferation.

When was the last time you removed obsolete HR policies and procedures from circulation?

HR has a reputation of adding more policies but rarely making any redundant. Publishing copious policy documents is like an emotional crutch – a false validation of value.

Retire the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) blankie. Time to streamline and focus producing only those policies and procedures that are meaningful and valuable to the business.
According to Jan Hills, HR’s future lies in “Creating simplicity to deal with complexity.”
Read her article for a glimpse of a future where HR’s value lies in its leaders’ ability to provide simplicity in a complex world.

Take a look in her crystal ball here.

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” — Hans Hoffman, Abstract Expressionist Painter

Declutter: I am sure it has been on your to-do list for eons.

Make the time to declutter. Schedule the time to do a little every day for 1 week or a massive all-day clear out.

Hang the Do Not Disturb notice on the office door. Make it happen.

Archive old or closed HR files.

Remove obsolete or shabby HR documents from circulation.

Delete and shred as appropriate.

Replace with up to date and correctly branded material.

Free your mind from distractions and your work space from confusion. You will be surprised how decluttering can reduce your stress levels and sharpen your focus on what is truly important.

Achieve instant serenity: Turn off all email and Instant Message (IM) notifications on all your devices. You don’t need all the interruptions – you really don’t.

Go cold turkey and detox from the Pavlovian impulse to constantly check every vibration and ping from your smart phone, tablet or piece of technology in your possession.

Try checking and responding to email at 2-3 set times a day. The sky will not fall. I promise.

Use those moments of serenity to think, create and connect.

Connect with meaning: Strip unnecessary jargon ‘legalese’ from all employee communications. They are obstacles to comprehension and human connection.

‘Are You Creating Meaningful Content?’ Find out and learn how via Copyblogger.

The HR-Writer. You use copywriting skills to create job descriptions, policies & procedures, newsletters and employee communications.

You are a content marketer on a mission to inject purpose and communicate meaning about the work and the contributions made by the individual members of your employee community.
Your written words must have the power to ignite the desire to act, follow, change and commit.

Open Mind: Be curious and go cross-discipline adventuring. Cultivate a mind open to trying new experiences.

Explore like HR Bohemians traveling through the worlds of art, marketing, HR, design, psychology, business etc. Collect new idea or a fresh perspective on old ones.

Beyond HR’s boundaries, unlikely pairings and uncommon connections might be a source of inspiration to solve a problem or energise the dull or create a new opportunity to add value.

Practise presence every day: If you are committed to practising human-centric HR, you need to leave the confines of your office regularly and engage and connect with your employee community. But it is not only about maintaining high visibility in the operation.

Disprove the skeptics by authentically modelling the desired behaviours and values desired. Do this consistently and to all levels of seniority. This is the foundation of building genuine trust.

When I HR’ed in the hotel industry, I learnt that spending time with the ‘heart of house’ teams (e.g. maintenance, housekeeping, culinary) in their space every day revealed more about the culture, employee perception and what is really going on in the business than any employee engagement survey ever could.

Ditch the phone as you connect with individual team members – you will be amazed at the depth, context and value of the knowledge you gain about the real employee experience and workings of the operation.

This knowledge is power – use it wisely as you lead the connection of the business’ head (senior leadership) and the heart (employee community) to help grow the business through human value creation.

So this year practice Mindful HR. Pick at least one idea that resonates with you most and take action today.

I am not making any New Year's resolutions. But after the roller coaster ride that was 2015, I do intend to take a Zen-like approach to doing business in 2016.

Now skeptics may dismiss this as New Age HR 'woo-woo' and that’s OK.  Different ideas and approaches to making HR great are welcome.  After all, as individuals we have different styles and tastes; just as our businesses have different cultures and goals.

Let’s explore this subject some more.  Do you have more suggestions of Mind-shifting Ideas to Quickly Transcend HR Mediocrity?

Pop a comment in the box below.

Additional sources of mind-shifting ideas: http://www.lifehack.org/work.

Before I sign off – here’s to an HR year of meaningful impact and making a difference where it counts!

This post was originally posted in full in the blog The HR Rabbit Hole on 3rd January 2016. It has been tweaked only a little and now freshly served for the Recruiting Blogs community.

Nicole is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Aquarius Human Resources Consulting Ltd. Passionate about HR as Art, she is an advocate of Creative HR and transforming HR. Connect via Twitter @AquariusHRLtd.

Views: 105

Comment by Katrina Kibben on January 7, 2016 at 9:59am

Those 4 horsemen of mediocrity hit the nail on the head. If there were FUE (frequently used excuses), most would fall under these buckets. 

Great post - happy new year!

Comment by Nicole Antonio-Gadsdon on January 8, 2016 at 9:33am
Happy New Year to you and the Recruiting Blogs community too.
A new year - a chance for a fresh mind-set - consciously focus on what you can do as opposed to what you can't; reveal solutions as opposed to pointing out problems; accountability as opposed to excuses. Easier said than done but these are good places to start on the road to value and meaningful contribution - and maybe loving what you do.
Here's to rocking HR / Recuitment in 2016!

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