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HR, Football & Hugs

Not the typical title for one of my posts but it pretty much captures what I experienced today at the HRPA 2016 conference. I was one of the crazy fools who got up early to attend a 7am session (good thing the body was still on Atlantic Time!) I am really glad that I did. The speaker was Mike “Pinball” Clemons. Mike is a former professional football player who played and later coached the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL. Mike is a great example of how “the little guy” can still make it in a big man’s game.

The beauty of Mike’s talk today was that he was able to talk a little bit about football and tie it all in with a lot about HR and people. Mike’s energetic and engaging style quickly grabbed my attention – as well as his propensity for dishing out hugs to anyone and everybody (Tim Sackett are you listening?) Mike’s message to HR was that we are in an incredible position to display servant leadership. In fact, one of his best quote’s from today was, “good HR is the best medicine for any organization.” When you really think about that, he is right. If we as HR Pros are doing our jobs well and providing effective servant leadership, we ARE good medicine for our organizations…we can fix what ails our companies!

Mike ClemonsMike did a great job connecting everyday challenges to what we do as HR Pros. He did, however, make one comment that absolutely struck a chord with me – more on that in a second. During his speech, Mike spoke a lot about the value of teamwork and how HR needs to lead and model the way in terms of organizational teamwork and showing the impact it has on our companies. He also spoke a lot about how HR should never forget that it is there for the people and to support those that can’t support themselves. His specific quote that really got me was:

“Our success (as organizations and HR Professionals) is directly proportional with the real or perceived (work) experience of the most marginalized person in our company”

When you think about that for a minute, he is absolutely right. When we look at what we do as servant leaders in our companies and the “value” we provide as HR Pros, we need to evaluate our success by looking at the experience of the most marginalized person (people) in our companies. Here is the thing, unless you are some major conglomerate, you know who this persons/people is/are. We just have to open, honest and objective about taking a real hard look at their real or perceived work experience.   How are they treated? Are they listened to? Do they have a voice? Do they experience equity in their job?

At the end of the day, we need to take a hard look at ourselves and evaluate and determine what our level of organizational and HR success is. If the overall work experience of our most marginalized employee is still a positive one, then rest assured you are being successful as an organization and as an HR Pro. Of course, the opposite is painfully true. We may think we are doing AWESOME HR work, but if our most marginalized employees are having negative work experiences, then we are not successful…and yes, it is that simple to evaluate.

So for me, the message hit home today…and hard. I need to be a better HR Pro. I need to take a hard look in the mirror at myself, my HR practice, my company and our employees. I need to objectively ask myself what is their real or perceived work experience like? Are we being as equitable as we can be? Am I leading the way with servant leadership? Am I making this about me…or them? Am I finding a way to make things happen and effect change? Am I leading with kindness? Am I starting with the heart? Am I finding a way? Mike, thanks for making me look at myself and for challenging me to be a better HR Pro. For all of us as HR Pros, let’s try and use this as our barometer of success moving forward:

“Our success (as organizations and HR Professionals) is directly proportional with the real or perceived (work) experience of the most marginalized person in our company”

As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.


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