HR Transformers: Avoiding The Age of Extinction

I’ll tell you how fate works. I had an idea in mind for this post, but couldn’t think of a really good analogy to bring it together. Then just this past week, my fellow contributor Chris Fields FINALLY saw the latest Transformers movie and it hit me. Also fitting, the film is entitled The Age of Extinction, which is what HR will be if some things don’t change.

You know the Transformers, giant alien robots from the planet Cybertron…secretly living on earth in search of an energy source called Energon to rebuild their homeland? Yeah, THOSE Transformers. And while the concept of shape-shifting extraterrestrials may be a little far-fetched, they are really more like us than you might imagine.

Think about it. The robots have lived among and along side us for hundreds of years and we’ve never been the wiser. Disguised as service vehicles and everyday transportation, they ride around blending in with the rest of us as we go about our daily routines. It’s not until they morph or transform into something unique that we pay attention. It’s in this giant, unfamiliar mode that their actions become amplified, noticed and establishment altering.

Ask yourself these questions for me:

  • Do I coast through life/work pressing buttons and blending in, hoping to be unchallenged, safe and unnoticed?
  • Am I a giant, rusty alien just taking up space in this organization?
  • Am I just a “service vehicle”, going back and forth from point A to B, day in and day out?
  • Am I transactional (maintaining status quo) or transformational (trying to move beyond the status quo)?

…and before you tell me how important service vehicles are, let me add that those machines are merely the vessels through which passionate/transformational people live out their purpose.

Don’t get me wrong, transactional work is a critical part of all of our jobs. I need automation and buttons pushed on my behalf daily because I enjoy things running smoothly too…I enjoy my direct deposit being accurate and coming in on time. But we must be more than that if we desire to be valued. If you have ideas that need to be shared, share them! If you have a voice and opinions about how things can and/or should be in the organization, voice them!

If decision makers don’t bother to listen to the ideas/advice that we offer, it’s because we put all of our Energon into the transaction bucket. We missed our window of opportunity to contribute to the conversation. Until we transform our ways of thinking and our actions, that window will remain shut and we’ll continue to blend in, be undervalued and underutilized.

In the movie, the Transformers didn’t realize their own strength, and because of this, they often broke things that were around them. Maybe it is time that HR realized it’s strength and started breaking some stuff to make a difference. Breaking some norms, breaking tradition, forcing leadership and employees to take notice and listen by being creative and unusual (in a good way). To show that we are “More Than Meets The Eye”, we must take chances, make unpopular decisions and reveal who we truly are to prove ourselves critical and transformational, not just transactional.


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