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Calling the Question
Calling the Question 150 150 Jason Lauritsen

Earlier this week, I read a post by Charlie Judy on his always thought provoking blog, HR Fishbowl, titled “Stop Playing Nice if it Doesn’t Advance the Ball.”  The post overall is about how we have come to be crippled in business by the desire for majority rule or consensus in business decisions.  Charlie outlines how the compulsion towards unanimous support is causing us to become progressively more inefficient and ineffective.  

There was one section in particular that stuck out to me in the post: 

Rarely have I been to a meeting where the leader actually opens it by saying something like, “I’ve gathered you here today to gain your perspective on a decision we’re trying to make. Once we’ve heard from you we’ll be making our decision based primarily on what we believe is best for the organization; that decision may or may not directly reflect your input.” 

He’s right.  This is rare.  Having your voice heard and your opinion counted has seemingly become an entitlement in our organizations.  And, at the risk of sounding sacrilegious, this isn’t a good thing.     Yes, it is good to hear out employee opinions when and where appropriate, but there are times when not all opinions count.  But, this isn’t the real issue that jumped out at me.

The bigger issue and the reason we have this problem is a lack of leadership.  Charlie implies that many of us are driving towards majority rule.  I’m not even sure that this is true.  I think, particularly as leaders within HR, we are held at times to a standard that every major decision we make requires unanimous support.  But, even if we assume that majority rule would be sufficient, there’s a leadership moment within any debate/discussion where it’s clear that unanimous support will not be attained so it’s time to call the question.  Calling the question is a concept within parliamentary procedure that is essentially a formal motion to end debate immediately and take a vote on the issue at hand.  Calling the question in a practical sense requires you, as a leader, to have some courage to know when it’s time to stop debating and to make a decision.  It also means moving forward with a decision, even if close to half the people don’t agree with the it.

But, even if you can muster up the courage to call the question as a leader, that’s just the beginning.  The reality of leadership is that while you generally want the opinions and input of others in decision making, it’s rarely left up to a vote.  You are ultimately the decision maker so it’s your call.  So, calling the question really comes down to you being willing to end the discussion, and have the guts to make a decision–popular or not.

One of my mentors and the CEO of a company I worked for in the past was great at this.  When the organization was facing a big decision, he would gather his team together.  They would be briefed on all of the important information related to the decision.  Then, they would have a period of spirited discussion and debate on the topic.  Sometimes, they would come to a unanimous decision and the decision was made.  Other times, the opinions in the room were split.  My mentor would listen to and participate in the discussion as it happened.  But, then when he felt the debate had made the issues clear enough for him, he would end the discussion.  At that point, he would either declare what decision he had made and that he expected everyone to support it or he’d thank the group for the discussion and adjourn to contemplate the decision more fully before making his decision.  Either way, he was a master at calling the question and making decisions.

This approach was powerful for two reasons.  First, he had a great process for gathering and hearing people’s input.  He listened to and considered input from the people who had relevant perspectives on the topic at hand.  So, people felt both heard and involved in the decision making process.  Second, he moved swiftly through debate to decision.  This meant that we didn’t linger in the “not knowing” for very long.  We knew that a decision would be made.  We also knew that either we needed to come swiftly to a group decision or that he would make it for us.  This created purposeful debate and focused effort towards making decisions.

As a closing thought, I think that using the script that I included from Charlie’s post is a great model to use as a leader who has to move groups through major decisions as a group.  However, I would add one more sentence to the end of that script:

“Once the decision is made, regardless of your personal feelings related to this decision, I expect you to support and execute it fully and enthusiastically.”  

To effectively call the question as a leader, the group needs to know that once the debate ends and the decision is made, it’s time to make the transition from discussion to execution.  Agree with the decision or not, our job is to make it work.  Period.  

   

3 Ways to Lead Better through Assumptions
3 Ways to Lead Better through Assumptions 150 150 Jason Lauritsen

For years, I’ve been told not to assume. Assuming, it seems, is assumed to always have negative consequences. I think that assuming has gotten a bad rap.

While assuming the negative is a bad practice and often leads to bad things. Positive assumptions can be an equally powerful force to make good things happen. I’ve found several ways that making assumptions can make you a better leader.

1. Always assume positive intentions. Particularly in a world of email and truncated communcition, we are left too often to determine the tone or intention of a message without context. Human nature generally tends us towards the worst possible explanation when we are left to our own devices. For example, let’s say you get an email reply from someone that says simply “Why did you send me this?” Simple enough question. It would be easy to react defensively to this note. Assuming positive intentions means that rather than spending any time wondering if their response is snarky or intended in a negative way, you simply assume the best intentions.  In this case, we would assume the email to be a simple request for clarification or more information. Assuming positive intention would cause you to reply in a way that would be positive. Even if the person on the other end of that email was trying to pick a fight, you’ve now diffused it without even participating.

When you assume positive intentions, you will draw out the best in others. When the people you interact with every day experience this from you, they will actually start acting with better intentions on the daily basis. If you can teach this to your team or the others you work with most closely, workplace drama will almost disappear.

2. Assume that when your people fail, it was your fault, not theirs. Somewhere along my journey, I picked up this leadership philosophy from one of my mentors: “When things go wrong, take more than your share of the blame; when things go right, give away the credit.” When you take the bullet for your team when they make a mistake, particularly a visible one, they will work hard to ensure you don’t have to do that in the future. This doesn’t mean that you don’t hold them accountable, it just means that you take the public blame.  Additionally, when your team fails to live up to your expectations, assume that it’s because you didn’t make those expectations clear enough. When you take on this responsibility, not only will you lead better, but those you hope to lead will be more loyal to you because they will see that you hold yourself to the highest standard.

3. Assume that everyone wants to be great, they just haven’t been given permission yet.  One of my greatest joys as a leader is giving this gift to people.  Every person on some level wants to be remarkable, but they are afraid.  They are afraid of failure.  They are afraid of the inevitable attention that comes with being remarkable.  They are afraid that if they are remarkable once, they will be expected to do it all the time. And they have plenty of people encouraging their mediocrity each day.  Be the person who gives them permission to be great.  Help them see that failure isn’t fatal and that being expected to be great feels really good.  Encourage them to take the risk to be as good as they are capable of.

By assuming these three things, you can become a better leader overnight.  Your assumptions guide your actions and by adopting powerful positive assumptions about people, you will become the leader they want to follow because they can feel that you see greatness in them and that you always expect them to be their best selves.

How Icelandic Soccer Inspired Me
How Icelandic Soccer Inspired Me 150 150 Jason Lauritsen

When you are on the elliptical machine, gutting out a workout, and sweating like a mad man when something on the TV makes you laugh out loud, it must be good.  This happened to me on Sunday morning.

What got me laughing?  It was story on SportsCenter about the “unusual celebrations” of an Icelandic soccer team.  Despite not being able to hear the narrative (I had my Ipod blaring some Lady Gaga at the time), the video was captivating.  The piece showed clips from YouTube of a number of celebrations this soccer team has done after scoring a goal.  The celebrations have names ranging from “The Salmon” to “Rambo” and “The Toilet.”  When I got home, I looked the piece up on the web and watched it with the narrative.  It is awesome.  I’d highly recommend that you watch it (embedded below).

These guys are having a great time.  They seem to love playing together and you can see that they are having fun.  It seems clear as you listen to these players talk about the celebrations that this freedom to be creative and express themselves is fueling their team.  This creative silliness has become an important part of their bond to one another.

This got me thinking.  Would we or do we allow our employees this kind of creative freedom at work?  Would we celebrate (ahem, tolerate) this kind of silliness within our organizations?  Sadly, I think that answer for most organizations is: probably not.

After watching the video, I think we should reconsider.

Forgiveness as a Leadership Skill
Forgiveness as a Leadership Skill 150 150 Jason Lauritsen

“Can you believe what they did to me?”

“Why do they always have to be difficult?”

“Why are they attacking me?”

It seems to be a common human characteristic to assume that the world revolves around us (at least I hope it’s not just me).  We assume that when something happens that isn’t according to our plan or that causes us some discomfort, that it must have happened with the sole purpose of throwing us off course.

We all probably work or have worked with someone who has a tendency to be difficult.  Maybe this person challenges you on everything you say.  Maybe this person doesn’t listen when you talk.  Maybe they spend their energy finding ways to avoid doing their work which adds to your own workload.  They are difficult.

If you are like me, you may look at that person and assume she is being difficult because she don’t like you and that she is actively trying to sabotage you.  After all, the world revolves around you, right?  And, because you assume she is working actively against you, the natural defensiveness creeps in and you start becoming withdrawn or even hostile towards her.  It’s a natural response, but it’s also self-destructive and it gets in the way of being a leader.

Here’s the truth of the sitation: no one is out to get you.  The difficult colleague is probably just difficult.  He likely doesn’t know any better.  And further, it’s likely that this person is doing the best he knows how and is wondering why you are always so defensive around him.  He isn’t out to get you, not even a little bit.

So, you need to forgive him.  Forgive him for how he behaves.  You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) go tell him that you forgive him.  This isn’t about him, its about you.  Because only once you have forgiven him for these imaginary transgressions against you can you begin to embrace this person for who he is.  Once you embrace him for who he is, you are in a position to help him and to be a better partner.

You know how to do this.  Think about a best friend or a significant other.  He or she does things that probably irritated you at some point in your relationship.  She doesn’t return phone calls right away.  Or maybe he always tries to get involved in “fixing” your issues rather than just listening like you hoped he would.  If the relationship matters enough to you, eventually you realize that this person isn’t doing any of this to annoy you, but rather it’s part of who he/she is.  You may even find that some of these annoying behaviors came from an intention of love and support.  Once you know that, it’s easy to get past and even embrace these behaviors.

By learning how to forgive and recognize most people are doing the best they can and the best they know how, we free ourselves to embrace, love and lead more effectively.  Through letting go, we build better and stronger relationships.

The Quest for Great HR: Reflections on 2 Days in the ATL
The Quest for Great HR: Reflections on 2 Days in the ATL 150 150 Jason Lauritsen

I had the privilege this weekend to attend HRevolution 3 and to spend a day and a half with 130 great people from around the globe who are incredibly passionate about the work and future of Human Resources.  The experience was filled with robust conversations about what’s happening in the work or HR and a palpable sense of the struggle that our profession has in front of it.

Throughout the event, there were a few themes that seemed to stand out to me.  Perhaps they stood out because several people were talking about or perhaps they stood out because they align with some of my own beliefs, but either way they got my attention.

The name of the event is HRevolution, which implies that we come together in the spirit of moving HR forward.  So, that idea naturally tends us more towards thinking about what is happening in HR and what needs to change or get better in the future.

Here’s what I left thinking about.

1.  HR is losing its humanity.  Several people at least hinted at the fact that we (HR) are losing track of the fact that we must ensure that people are still treated like people in the work place.  As we have increasingly adopted process, metrics and efficiency as methods of gaining business credibility, we may be losing sight of the fact that people are not machines.  Unleashing the power of “human resources” is about embracing the beautiful complexity of people and how they come together to create remarkable things.  This doesn’t mean that process isn’t important, but if we put process before people, we may be becoming part of the problem.  And if we in HR don’t advocate for keeping the humanity in our work places, who will?

2.  Unleashing talent happens at the individual, not collective, level.  This really struck me as I listened to Eric Winegardner from Monster.com talk about how he approaches the management of his virtual team of 30 high performers from around the U.S.  At one point, he talked about a contest they held online where each of his team members sent in a picture of their desks/workstations from their home offices.  Then, the team played a game to match the team member to the desk.  As Eric shared these photos, he commented on how it had really hit him how unique and different each workstation was from the others.  It seemed that each person has created their own idealized way to work in their own idealized space.  Wow.  30 people, 30 very different work stations.  The point of Eric’s session as I took it was this: to get the best of our people, you have to discover with them how they work best, and then relentlessly work to get them what they need to make that happen–not as a team, but for each beautifully unique and complicated individual.  That should probably become the mission statement for HR as we move into the future.

3.  HR feels they need to be less HR to be accepted and acknowledged.  It was disappointing to me to hear how many of my colleagues feel a pressure to be less HR in an effort to be respected within their organizations.  One person commented, “I bet most of our HR staff doesn’t even know what your company’s revenue was last quarter” and he’s probably right.  But who cares?  I think somewhere along the line, we’ve lost a handle on what business acumen really means.  I don’t think I could tell you specifically what my organization’s revenue was for any given quarter either, but I could look it up.  Is this really what we think will gain us credibility with our CEO’s?  I’ve never had a CEO ask me to quote business numbers to them off the top of my head.  There are plenty of people who know the numbers, that’s not differentiating.  Business acumen isn’t about quoting numbers, it’s about understanding how business works.  We need to know how our organizations do business and how we make money.  After that, our goal has to turn to how we unleash the talents and passions of our employees towards making the business run and run successfully.  I’m worried that in our desire to be accepted, we think we need to be more like the finance department.  While we’re doing that, who’s do the really important work of HR?

I love HRevolution.  It is a place for honest, candid conversation about where we are and where we are going in the world of Human Resources.  These things I outlined above are the right kinds of issues for us to be debating and struggling with as the focus on our work continues to grow.  We must keep the conversation going.  But, more importantly, we must continue to strive in a never ending quest to do our work better.

Why I’m not Live Tweeting #HRevolution
Why I’m not Live Tweeting #HRevolution 150 150 Jason Lauritsen

Lately, it seems like a theme that keeps coming up in my conversations with people is our collectively declining attention span and focus.  In our hyper-connected world; emails, calendars and social media tools travel with us everywhere we go.

As a result of our connectedness, we check emails constantly, tweet, scan Facebook updates and check in whenever we have a break in the action (and even sometimes when we don’t).  It’s becoming more and more common for people to be checking their device of choice during meetings and conversations.  We have an addiction to real time information–even if it’s not terribly profound.

Tomorrow morning, I board a plane to head to Atlanta to join in on the experience of HRevolution.  For those who don’t know about HRevolution, it’s an HR unconference that’s in it’s third iteration.  In short, it’s a day of conversations about important topics in the world of HR with some really passionate HR pros and consultants from around the world.  It’s an awesome experience to engage with peers to really talk and think through some important stuff.

The idea of an unconference is that is has less structure and formality of a tradition conference so that the participants of the conference shape the experience to their needs.  In my experience, this model only works if the people in attendance are participating in full contact dialogue–hearing others, thinking about what’s being said, adding your perspective, and jointly arriving at an improved understanding of the issue at hand.  Dialogue is intense and it requires a lot of the participants.

Another thing about HRevolution is that most, if not all, of the participants are social media savvy pros who blog and use twitter quite a lot.  This means that there will be a lot of people tweeting during the event.  I’m going to risk becoming really unpopular for the weekend here and admit that I hate live tweeting during a session that is supposed to be about dialogue and the exchange of ideas.  Here’s why.

Picture being in a deep conversation with a friend about an important topic.  While you are pouring out your feelings and thoughts to that person, they pull out their phone and start typing.  You stop talking and look that them.  They look up and say, “Don’t worry, I’m listening.  It’s just that something you said was really good so I wanted to tweet it out.”  How would you feel?  Is the person still listening to you as their tweeting?  I mean really listening?  The flow of the exchange is gone and the conversation is broken down.

The really great conversations you have with people, the ones that last for hours and have the possibility to live in your thoughts for months to follow are those where all parties involved are fully present in the conversation: mind, body and soul.  The participants aren’t listening for “twitter gold,” they are listening for understanding and hidden meaning.  They was eagerly anticipating the moment when the spark of insight is born and all parties in the conversation are changed forever.

So, I will not be live tweeting during HRevolution.  I will be too busy trying to learn, engage and grow with the others who make the journey to Atlanta.  I will likely write some blog posts after the event to share the insights and ideas creating during the experience but that will come later.  The opportunity is too important to me to jeopardize by trying to share out of context soundbites with the Twitterverse.

I owe it to the others in the room to be fully present for them.  I hope that some of them feel the same way towards me.

HR is in Trouble
HR is in Trouble 150 150 Jason Lauritsen

Since I have the pleasure of facilitating a session at HRevolution 2011 with Steve Browne, it seemed like a good idea to start the dialogue on our blogs before getting to Atlanta in hopes that we’ll be able to add more depth to our discussion there.  The title of our session is “If HR is so bad, what are YOU going to do about it?”

Steve,

Thanks for the thoughts related to the State of the HR Union.  You and several others who I respect a great deal have weighed in on the topic and it seems to me that in summary, HR is in trouble.  The descriptions of where HR stands today could be summarized as transforming, in flux, precarious, better, and losing the battle.  There seems to be an idealistic sense that we’ve gotten better, but that seems like a pretty low bar to clear.  With as much effort as we spend dissecting ourselves, having conferences, writing about it, we had better be better.  There also seems to be some cautious optimism and anticipation of the future.  But I would guess that pundits from a decade ago probably would have said much the same things about HR at that time as we are saying today.  So, are we really making progress as a whole?

One this is crystal clear to me, we have a lot of work to do.  I doesn’t matter where we’ve come from or how we got here.  All that matters is the path forward.  Personally, while I think it’s important that HR focus on becoming better and more effective, it might be time to take a giant step back and reconsider why HR exists in the first place and then smash that model to pieces.  If we are truly honest, here’s what I think our mission statement would be for HR:

HR exists to try to compensate for and minimize the effect of poor management and a lack of organizational leadership.  

This is the hard reality that we face each day.  And when you spend your days and nights living this mission, there’s not much time left to address bigger issues like, “How can we make work more meaningful?”  The dirty secret behind our entire discussion is that strategic and transformational HR cannot exist in an organization with a leadership vacuum.  Organizational culture flows from the top and it does not change simply because HR is passionate.

So, that brings me to the question you posed for me in your last post: 

Have we buried passion for HR in systems and methodology in order to appear to be relevant in the business world?

I am not sure that we’ve buried our passion under systems and methodologies.  I think that our passion is getting choked out by bad management and absent leadership.  HR cannot transform organizations on our own.  All the passion, talent and skill in the world cannot compensate for a lack of leadership at key spots within the organization.  You show me a successful HR leader or team and I’ll show you an organization with a strong CEO or executive team.  They don’t exist independently.

Poor leaders favor the simplicity of systems and technology over the messiness of humanity.  So I think it’s natural that HR, in our quest to be accepted by and welcomed to a “table” surrounded by executives with missing leadership capabilities who secretly wish people would more like machines, tries to build systems that promise to take some of the unpredictability out of managing humans.  Shame on us for falling into this trap, but it is fairly predictable and hard to resist.

So, what’s the solution?  For one, we have to stop enabling bad management.  Our entire systems are set up to let bad managers off the hook, that has to change.  We also have to seek out great leaders and commit ourselves to helping those leaders build amazing organizations where human potential can be set free.

Your ball, Steve.  What do you think on this topic?

What is the State of the HR Union?
What is the State of the HR Union? 150 150 Jason Lauritsen

Since I have the pleasure of facilitating a session at HRevolution 2011 with Steve Browne, it seemed like a good idea to start the dialogue on our blogs before getting to Atlanta in hopes that we’ll be able to add more depth to our discussion there.  The title of our session is “If HR is so bad, what are YOU going to do about it?”  You can find Steve’s blog at www.sbrowneHR.com.

Steve,

I love the title of your post, plotting Anarchy by the light of a Lava lamp sounds pretty cool.  And thanks for the questions from your post.  I will respond to those shortly, but first I want to pose a question to you and to the greater world that I think gives the back drop to what we are hoping to discuss in Atlanta the end of this month.

There was a time, when I worked on the outside of HR, that I could have described clearly to you what was wrong with HR.  But, then I jumped into the fray.  As a member of the HR community, I don’t feel like I can see the big picture the way I used to.  I have become a part of the system and thus the system has become harder to see.

HR has always taken some hard criticism that culminated in the August 2005 Fast Company article, “Why we Hate HR.”  Since then, it has seemed to me that there has been a lot of talk about how HR must improve and evolve, but are we making progress?  I’m not sure.  So, I’d pose this question to you and others who care enough to join this discussion:

What is the state of HR today?  (Could the same Fast Company article be written about us today or have we progressed in the past 6 years?)

We need some really honest conversation on this topic because my fear is that we’ve done a lot of talking and not a lot of changing.  I think the answer to this question helps us to determine the importance of action on the part of those who live in and lead in HR daily.

Now to your questions of me:

1) Being that you, and others like you, are my “future” in HR – why stick with a field that others rip apart?

This is a great question.  For me, it’s because I love the type of work that HR does.  My work is increasingly about helping people to manifest their talent and HR provides a great place to do this work.  I’d like to say that other’s perceptions and opinions of HR don’t bother me, but they do.  That challenge fuels me to keep up the fight and to prove what a great HR team is truly capable of.

2) What attracts you to stretching the boundaries of our field?
I’d like to say that it’s the challenge of HR, but in this case, I think it’s just how I’m wired.  I try to stretch the boundaries of everything I’m involved in and the work of HR happens to lie at the intersection of many of my passions.

3) Why should people even care about this session?

They should at least be glad that two HR leaders are willing to step forward and lead a conversation about personal accountability of the leader within HR.  Beyond that, the value of the session won’t come from us, it will come from the courageous souls who step into the conversation with us to create an experience together that gives us the motivation to keep up the fight and to live the solution.  
We are starting our #HRevolution early this year
We are starting our #HRevolution early this year 150 150 Jason Lauritsen

HRevolution 2011 is about a month away.  For those of you who have been keeping tabs on me for longer than a year now, you know that I attended the last HRevolution and was blown away by the experience.  When the announcement for this year’s event landed in my Twitter stream, I didn’t even have to think about it–I was in.  

Being “in” meant more than just buying a ticket.  HRevolution represents a movement, a transition that is taking place inside of our profession.  The HRevolution experience is a democratic one in that it is by the people, for the people.  But it’s also only as good as the people decide to make it through their participation and commitment to it. 
When I left HRevolution 2010, I knew that I had been a part of something really amazing.  But, I also left with a feeling that we hadn’t gone far enough and that there was still so much to do.  Thankfully, that sense of unfinished business prompted me to come back home and undertake the creation of The HR Reinvention Experiment, but that’s a post for another day.  HRevolution 2010 left me feeling that there wasn’t enough discussion about where our gaps where in HR and what WE were going to do about it after we left.  This feeling never left me, so when HRevolution 2011 rolled around, I knew that I needed to try to be at least part of the solution for this year’s event.  
The Steve Browne Connection
As I pondered what to pitch to the HRevolution 2011 committee for consideration through the request for presentations process, I wanted to do something really cool and perhaps unexpected.  So, I shot a note off to Steve Browne to see if he would be interested in potentially leading a session with me at the event. This may not seem like an idea that is all that radical until you consider that Steve and I had never met.  At the point that I sent the email to him, we’d had about 30 minutes of conversation on the phone to get acquainted, but that was it.  
Here’s what I knew about Steve:
  • He ran HR for a pizza company in Ohio
  • He had a ton of passion for HR
  • He was investing a lot of his own time in growing the profession through HRNet, his HR Roundtable, and through extensive involvement in the state SHRM organization in Ohio.  He walks the talk.  
  • He seemed like a guy who likes to mix it up a little bit.  
  • He seemed intrigued by me, an HR executive at a bank who calls himself a Talent Anarchist.  
That was good enough for me, so I sent an email to Steve to do a little fishing.  And he bit.  Not only did he like the idea, he loved the idea.  Fortunately, the HRevolution 2011 planning team was kind enough to put us on the agenda.
If HR is so bad, what are you DOING about it?  
This is the title of our session at this year’s event.  Steve and I share in common a passion for HR.  We also share in common a belief that HR can only live up to its calling if HR leaders from across the world step up their game and make it their responsibility to lead this charge.  We must BE the solution.  
We aren’t naive enough to think that our session is going to change the world over night, but we hope that through this conversation, that we may throw a few sparks.  And that these sparks may light a few fires. We hope that our session will reveal to those who join us that we are all struggling with the same issues and that we must move beyond thinking and writing about our issues and instead start taking definitive action to become a part of the solution.  
So, let’s start the conversation.
Since HRevolution is a democratic process and it is dependent on those who attend to co-create the experience, it seems perfectly reasonable that we start the conversation before we ever get to Atlanta.  To this end, Steve and I have decided to start some conversation back and forth between my blog and his blog.  We hope you will join in the conversation and add your thoughts and questions.  In this way, we can start the discussion ahead of time and hit Atlanta having already done some work collectively as a community.  
So, Steve, here are a few questions I have for you?
  • Why is it that you agreed to do a session at HRevolution with a guy you’ve never met?
  • What are you hoping we can accomplish in our short session?
  • Most importantly, why do you invest so much of your time trying to impact HR pros?  
Let the games begin.
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.   
Jason Lauritsen