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Do as I say, not do as I do!

As the parent of a young child, I find that I have to catch myself from time to time as I fall into the trap of setting this (bad) example with my daughter. Try as I might, I don’t always set the best example and revert to this poor parental style of telling her to not emulate what I just said/did and that she should be behaving in a different matter. As a parent, I know better. I know I need to set an example for my daughter. I know I need to model the appropriate behaviours for her – treat others with respect, no yelling, put my “toys” away, etc. I know what the rules are, but quite frankly, if I want to bend them or break them, than that is my prerogative because I am the parent. I am the one in charge; I pay the mortgage and the bills, etc. and it is different, because, well, I am the parent! My daughter understands that…right? Sure………

Parent scoldingThis is no different when it comes to our role(s) as HR professionals. We are the ones that make up the rules (write policy), craft wonderful employee handbooks, development retention programs and coach other managers on how they need to better motivate and engage their staff. So in a lot of ways, HR takes on the role of the parent in many organizations – whether right or wrong. The interesting thing, that I have come to find out, is that often we don’t always follow the advice we give out or model the examples that we profess others need to follow.

This really came to light for me a couple of weeks ago when I was having lunch with some HR colleagues. Several of us had begun strategic planning for 2014 and a lot of discussion centered on recruiting challenges, the talent/skills shortage, etc. There was a lot of grumbling and complaining about how their operations partners just don’t seem to get that there is a skills shortage and that they are always looking for ideal candidates – i.e. they must have x number of years’ experience in a certain role/industry. There was a lot of angst being expressed by my colleagues about how organizations needed to get more focused on developing their own people and providing them with the skills they need for future roles AND they then need to give them an opportunity (take a chance) to show they can perform in these roles. As true HR pros, we got into the whole debate of build vs. buy approaches to talent. The whole conversation turned quite constructive and proactive (after the initial grumbling subsided!).

Things got really interesting when we started to discuss succession management in our own HR departments. When we started talking about whether or not we had people ready to replace us or replace our HR Managers, to a person, the responses were along the lines of, “that is a big challenge,” “I have no one that is even near ready to take on my role or my HR Manager’s role,” “I would have to recruit externally to fill my role,” etc. You get the point – as a group, we all spoke about the need to educate our organizations on the realities of today’s workforce and how we need to get rid of thinking of people as needing x years of experience before they can take on a “next level up” job.

The HR group, as a whole, was adamant their company’s needed to get better at developing their people and preparing them so they could step up into higher level positions so there wasn’t always a need to go to market. Yet, when it came time to apply that thinking to our own HR departments, everything we said we believed in we chucked out the window. Because we were HR, the rules didn’t apply. Because HR is different and the skills are so specialized and unique we couldn’t possibly develop our people to the level we need them to. Due the nature of our roles, we couldn’t be expected to “take a chance” on someone. We needed that person to have 8+ years of experience as an HR Manager in the I.T. industry before they could take on that role. That is why HR would have to recruit externally. Operations needed to focus more internally, but HR was an exception – really!?

Talk about a classic case of do as I say not do as I do. It is that type of thinking and approach that causes HR to lose credibility with its clients and business partners. If want to lead in our organizations, than we need to lead by example. We need to model the behaviours that we expect from our organizations. HR needs to walk the talk and be the role model. If we want credibility, this is how we earn it. So let us be the one that develops our people and puts someone in a next level up role because they have demonstrated they have the knowledge, skills and abilities to achieve the outcomes required. Let’s shift the paradigm and stop thinking of people as needing x years of experience in abc industry to do the job. Let’s take a “chance” – something that is very counterintuitive to HR!

What about you? Have you seen examples in your organizations where HR falls into the “do as I say, not do as I do” trap? As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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One Response

  1. Reblogged this on The Armchair HR Manager and commented:

    One of my personal favourites because, as HR Pros, we need a reminder from time to time about our image and how we are perceived.

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