What Does Great HR Look Like? It Depends.

What Does Great HR Look Like? It Depends. 150 150 Jason Lauritsen

During the course of a panel interview for my current job, I was asked a question about dress code by one of the interviewers.  The question sounded something like this, “Many departments throughout the organization enforce different dress codes.  Do you feel that dress code should be uniform throughout the organization and how would you address that issue?”  

My response: “It depends.”  
Generally, when I give an answer like that, particularly as the HR guy, I’m greeted with some kind of joke about sounding like a consultant.  And, that’s probably why consultants make so much money in the HR space.  They see the gray in places where we try only to see black and white.  
The problem with questions like the one posed above is that they don’t have a single right answer.  The real question is one I’ve written about before: “What problem are you trying to solve?”  Until we know what problem we are working on, it’s almost impossible to create an optimal solution.  In my case, the question being posed wasn’t really about dress code, it was about my belief related to the consistency and enforcement of policy.  Although the question seemed to imply there was a problem to be solved, there might not be one at all once I knew more about the situation.  Either way, I can’t answer the question with a conclusion without a lot more information.  
Be wary of those who claim to have THE answer to your problems.  Human resources is a relative and contextual practice where the right answer to any give question depends on the circumstances in your environment surrounding the problem you are trying to solve. 
What is the best way to find talent?  It depends.
What is the right way to approach wellness?  It depends.
What should be in an employee handbook?  It depends.
How do you create a success plan?  It depends.
To practice great HR, it’s important for us to realize that each situation and the circumstances surrounding it are unique and require some inquiry first, before we rush to a conclusion.  Be curious first.  Then, go solve the problem.   
  • Steve Browne

    Jason – I love this !! I use the "it depends" answer daily and also at every HR Roundtable because there is no one, clear answer or approach to HR situations.

    Amazing – we are states apart, yet of one mind. Scary !! Can't wait until we get to present together at #HRevolution !!!

  • Cyndy Trivella

    Excellent post Jason!

    As a former HR practitioner and current HR consultant, you hit the nail on the head. Saying "it depends" means knowing there is no one fix-it for all problems. It also means that when opportunities like this come up, it's time to listen carefully, collect all the information you can, weigh the benefits / consequences of a decision, and then offer up the solution.

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Jason Lauritsen