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Get your head out of the clouds…and get into the trenches

One of the big mistakes we make as managers and leaders is that we get too immersed in what we think is all the” big picture” stuff. Yes, I know that leaders of departments and organizations have a responsibility to think big, act globally, prepare business plans, etc. but we often get over immersed (consumed) in this realm. I know that as a department manager and HR Pro, I get caught up in this type of thinking and approach more often than I would like too. The real danger is getting so caught up with your head in the clouds you don’t even realize it!

Case in point: I recently had to give myself a bit of a reality check. The reason for this, was that for the better part of the past 6-10 months, I have been so caught up in enterprise projects and leading (and developing) company based “HR Initiatives” that I fell victim to this head in the clouds mentality. I had become obsessed with increasing company retention, re-energizing our employment brand strategy, integrating our HR system and developing a rewards and recognition strategy that I lost sight of one of the most important parts of my job – dealing with our actual “human resources!”

cloudsReality smacked me in the face, when as I was working through these various initiatives.  I was hitting some roadblocks as to what would work, what the actual solutions may be, how I could solve our organizational issues, etc.  The thing is that because my head was so in the clouds, I forgot to communicate with and involve the actual people (our employees) with whom I was trying to develop these great solutions for!  Talk about missing the mark!

As HR Pros, we often get so caught up in justifying our existence and being a “strategic business partner” that we forget to do what makes us truly valuable in our roles – understand our people. Whenever I have started a new role as an HR practitioner in any organization, I always made sure to spend the first several weeks on the job with the front line staff – learning about what it is they do and what challenges they face. I always held the mantra that you can’t possibly provide HR support to a company and its people when you don’t understand what it is that they do! So it begs the question, since I do that when I first start at a company, how come I don’t do it again after I have been working for a while with that same company!?

Where I am going with all this is that I am trying to make the point that it is important for managers and leaders, (and Trenches_Sanctuary_Wood_Ypresin my case as an HR Pro) to get our heads out of the clouds and get back into the trenches on a regular basis. This is where we can add real value in our roles as we better understand our people, the challenges they face and just as importantly – the SOLUTIONS and IDEAS they are willing to share! In order to move forward with some “self-improvement”, for the better part of the past few weeks, I have spent more time chatting with front line staff about employee survey results, asking for their ideas on how to improve things, running ideas past them on how to improve rewards and recognition (“what do you think about this, would this work, how would feel if you received this reward”, etc.) I have also spent more time discussing our mentoring programs with our mentors and mentees and getting their feedback on how to make our organization a better place to work and grow – imagine that!

The bottom line for me is that the information and ideas that have been discussed and shared have been nothing short of AWESOME! I began to feel really energized again about the initiatives we (HR) were working on and why we undertook them in the first place. It also felt really good to make that connection between what I was doing “in the clouds” with the real work that was taking place “in the trenches.” It also hit home for me why I began this career as an HR Pro in the first place – that is, to provide workplace solutions to organizational (people) challenges. In order to be able to do that though, I (we/you) have to get our head(s) out of the clouds and get back in the trenches – where the work is being done!  As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Cloud photo courtesy of AllyCatastrophe

Trenches photo courtesy of Anthony Dodd/fotopedia.com

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