Sunday, June 27, 2010

My bestest enemy

Why did I put this video on the blog? For me it edifies the basic principle of duality in our world. Black is inconceivable without white, friends somewhat lose in importance if there are no enemies, and of course there would be no HR if there were no employees.

What do we hear about our function most of the time - "back-stabbers", "paper-shifters", "nose-wipers" and many more no less descriptive pleasantries, intended to demonstrate the amount of disrespect the employees vest in HR practitioners. Who do the same employees come to if there are problems? Correct. We are like doctors - people don´t come to our department if everything is fine and nothing hurts. They like to complain and critisize, since in most cases it is an expense and the value HR delivers can not be touched, kissed or taken home for the kids to play with. One of the blogs about HR has the title Evil HR Lady - can it be any more obvious? However, no matter how hard you throw stones in fair weather, when the proverbial masses hit the fan, HR always comes to the fore to manage crisis, communications, appease the unions and keep everyone happy.

Simplistic, I know. Yet, the duality principle holds. If everyone is happy with HR, it means HR is doing a bad job. You cannot make a cake for everyone: there will always be those who are not satisfied with whatever decision is taken. However, if that decision is taken within the stated clearly communicated procedures, following the correct and transparent processes, in the long run it pays off in high trust, respect and committment.

Now that we have established that the staff and HR live in the constant tension between love and hate, the question is how to manage the expectations and create correct perceptions. How many companies have robust internal marketing strategies for their functions, be it HR, Finance, IT, External Affairs or whatever else? Why not? Usual excuses about lack of time and resources are not really convincing, because the time and resources companies save when employees know the ropes and processes and don´t inundate the respective functions with questions and requests is worth much more. Add heightened transparency and insreased trust - you have the solution.

The drawback for the managers is that it takes the power away from them. The more you empower the staff, the more is shifted to the individual level (Level Zero as it is coined in certain companies). However, that is the time that you can spend on strategic issues; that is the time you always complain you don´t have!!! It seems like another contradiction, and people like contradictions because those are opportunistic in nature. Still, at the end of the day, that is the basic premise our world is built on (unity and juxtapposition of the contraries, if we want to get philosophical on this), and what would be the fun of choosing Coke if there were no Pepsi?

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