In 2005, Fast Company magazine’s article “Why We Hate HR“, described HR:
The human-resources trade long ago proved itself, at best, a necessary evil — and at worst, a dark bureaucratic force that blindly enforces nonsensical rules, resists creativity, and impedes constructive change.
Since that article was written, we have seen 7 years of dramatic change in the business world, and yet in many cases, HR seems stuck in the old ways, and I still hear this kind of perception quite often from business leaders.
This year, let’s focus on transforming HR and changing this perception.
My 2013 wishlist includes some aspirations for transforming HR. This is the year to make it happen. We are at a pivotal point in business, where the power of the internet and social media has given power to employees and customers like never before, and if HR doesn’t have the competency and isn’t involved in the strategy for driving collaboration, culture and innovation for your business, these perceptions stand the chance of being forever true.
My First Wish for 2013 is: Transforming HR from Policy Police to Culture Creators
I have never been a fan of policies. I understand that our government regulates certain policies – like Health and Safety policies, AODA (in Ontario), and others. But I think in many cases, we’ve become over-policied… If we instead focus on creating strong culture – hiring for, rewarding for, and leading based on core values – many policies become redundant.
In my mind, HR has a huge role to play as culture creators. Human Resources defines hiring practices and engages leaders to use them, develops training programs aligned with core values, coaches senior leaders to demonstrate behaviours aligned with the values and much more. if HR can get out of policy purgatory and into culture building, the impact can be so much more powerful and positive.
When I work with my clients, I look at 6 main points within the employee experience, and develop training, coaching and people programs to tackle the gaps that may cause weak culture.
If HR were focused on ensuring the values and culture make sense for the business, then on developing leadership and people programs based on them, there would be less need for redundant policies to dictate employee behaviour. Employees would act in alignment with the values because they fit with them naturally, and because those types of behaviours were rewarded and celebrated.
Some of you policy-lovers may be thinking that policies should be a part of the 6 – after all, we can align our policies with our culture! My response… true, you can add purpose and cultural language to your policies, but my philosophy is that CULTURE IS CREATED BY ACTION, NOT INTENTION. Your polices, similar to a poster with your values on the wall, may describe what you expect, but unless you weave culture through the behaviours and actions that employees experience throughout their career with you, they are just words.
In 2013, before writing a new policy or doing an annual review of all of policies, my wish is that we ask:
- Is this policy really necessary?
- Does the culture we are trying to build support a policy of this type?
- Is there a more positive way to encourage the behaviour we desire than policing it?
- 12 Keys to Building Organizational Culture
- Building a Culture of Innovation – 12 Innovative Touch Points
- Matt Monge at Workplace Mojo’s post on 6 Reasons Core Values Matter