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Ask Me !!

When you go into work, do you feel you know what to do?  Are you sure that everything on your “to-do” list is really worth your time or effort?  As you try to get through the HR grind of the day, do you wonder if the work you are doing is having the effect you thought would occur?

Better yet, do you ever ask yourself questions like this?

We work in a field where we feel we must “compete” with other departments, or fight to prove our worth.  Have you ever wondered that this approach seems to be unnecessary and not truly a good focus for Human Resources?  At times, we are a victim of our own doing because we feel compelled to crank out program after program regardless of their impact and/or results.  I’m not being cynical just realistic.

Remember Total Quality, ISO 9000, 01, 02, etc., Self-Directed Work Teams, Quality Circles and (add your trendy program here) ??

They all had their “time” and they did make some significant movements forward.  However, most of them were generated by Management looking for the next edge to move the company forward.  99 times out of 100 they never asked their employees for input, feedback, or feelings.  It was more of the try it and see what happens approach.  HR calls it “best practices.”

When did we forget to ask people questions?

We haven’t forgotten, but we’ve formalized that too.  Now HR uses engagement surveys to see how they’re doing.  These are interesting tools, but the majority of them are positive justifications of the programs that the company is already trying.  They want to feel good about the work they’ve already invested in.

People Asking QuestionsI’d like you to consider something truly radical instead.  Ask employees for their perspective, feedback and input . . . in person !!  The other radical aspect of this idea is to . . . do it on a regular, non-scheduled basis.

I had to learn this radical approach the hard way after having program after program fall short.  I started to do more face-to-face interaction and try ideas out on people.  I’d give and seek feedback on initiatives and then introduce things incrementally over time.  It’s working.  It really is.  In fact, it’s led to more things being considered and fewer things being implemented, but with more value and lasting impact.

The other fact you need to know is that asking questions takes time.  It takes a ton of time actually.  It also forces you to practice HR on a more individual basis instead of using the traditional collective method.  When I’ve mentioned this to other HR peers, they tend to shy away because it’s more interactive than what they’re used to.  It is more involved, but it also opens more avenues, opportunities and provides you a rich forum to do more experimentation.  Also, when employees are asked for their opinion and see actions come from it, they have more buy-in because they were a part of the process.

This next week drop the program approach and pick up a journal or notebook.  Head out with your ideas to the great people you work with and start asking questions.  I think you’ll love what happens !!

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