I was wondering recently. When did HR forget that they were employees too? We spend our days talking about “others” and completely forget that we are employees as well !!
I run an exercise with our Managers that is a little old school, but it’s very effective. I take a flip chart and write the word “EMPLOYEES” at the top of it. I then ask the folks attending to use any adjectives they’d like to describe employees. It gets ugly quick. Really quick !! In fact, you can fill the entire sheet in a matter of minutes. As people start sharing, and getting negative, I egg them on to get them more and more lathered up.
Once the chart is full, I cover the words again to emphasize how people see others and state the words out loud. Then, for emphasis I say –
“Okay, now one question to follow up. (pause) Who in the room is an employee ??”
The room is usually dead silent by then. Sometimes I get called a jerk. I’m good with that.
You see – HOW we view others is HOW we will treat them !!
This is true for people throughout an organization. It isn’t just line managers. Too often, sadly, it happens in HR. We continue to point fingers to others outside of our sphere of influence and never see ourselves in the picture.
One of the key building blocks to great performance is accountability. However, most people define this word as where to place the blame. We want to nail people for not doing work the way we want it done, and we say we’re holding others “accountable.”
There’s really only one solution to this. I don’t think we can even talk about improving performance in organizations unless we include ourselves as a part of the process. We have to quit looking at “others” and start accountability with us.
To do this takes practice. You can’t just flip a switch and start having a different view of people. Also, you can’t force others to have different views of people either. It really starts with you. If you take the time to treat others consistently, you’ll stop finger pointing. If you give people context around the work and situations they’re involved with, you’ll stop finger pointing. And, most importantly, if you don’t jump all over someone when they fail at this and give them coaching and direction instead, you’ll stop finger pointing.
Great performance starts with people. Great people need support – especially from HR !! Let’s get started !!