Even in my part of the sunny south Fall has finally arrived with a chill in the air, the morning mist and yes, falling leaves even in Texas. How rich they are turning color before finally dropping to the ground in a cascade of optical delight.
Every Monday the landscapers hit the condos across the street mowing, trimming, blowing and going. Such an efficient crew. Nothing like the smell of a freshly manicured space to really make you feel alive in the crisp morning air.
As I watched them blow and go today sipping my coffee I noticed the leaf-blower man was really working. We had bad storms over the weekend (is there ever a good one?) and there were lots of downed branches, leaves, trash, etc. The leaf-blowing guy was on double time blowing all that stuff…
Right next door.
Sure, some large commercial firms actually pick up the debris and I’d bet some local jurisdictions (I’m looking at you California) prescribe this as well but the truth is a lot of teams generally blow everything right next door.
So what happens next? Another team comes and blows everything down the street one or two more houses and the next day another and so on. We’ve created an entire sub-skill of just blowing shit around never to be resolved. Only we could develop brand new tools burning fossil fuels to swirl stuff around in an endless circle.
What’s this got to do with HR? More than you think.
In the last two decades as we’ve struggled to understand our business partner role we’ve become really adept at identifying all the things we don’t do anymore.
- Help with benefits? Not me! There’s a website for that
- Training issues? Find our contract trainer: she comes in on Wednesday
- Problems with your boss? Take a communications class. On-line
- Need development? Check out our partnership with the local Community College
And so on. We blow a lot of stuff around and around until our desktops and laptops are as clean as a freshly landscaped lawn. But do we really help much? The detritus we’ve adroitly side-stepped is lying right next door only to return next week as another team sends the flotsam our way again.
We in in HR have gotten far too good at getting far too away. We’ve perfected the art of not owning anything while not really helping either.
But all is not lost. There is a better way.
We can kick off this holiday season by giving the gift of real presence and commitment. We can turn off our blowers. We can stop moving all that work around the office so noisily until it sits anywhere but our desk. Stop blowing, start knowing and keep sewing.
Hope that is. Sew hope through our own behavior that things can become better, teams will improve and managers actually really care. Spread hope that starting at our own desktop the buck stops (blowing). It just stops.
And every HR person who ever dreamt of making a real difference can decide to stop blowing things around in the endless shuffle and focus on actually making that difference.
It starts with you.