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Think Small

communityI usually try to catch Steve Boese’s weekly broadcast of HR Happy Hour.  Unfortunately, the live broadcast is just about the time that my kids are getting ready for bed and my wife is crossing over to the dark side of bi-polar…look out.  So while I’m giving baths and reading books (or telling stories), some of the best on the fringe of HR thought leadership are shooting the breeze about a bunch good stuff.  I do my best, though, to listen to the podcast the next day.  Last week’s (#19) show was dedicated to ‘Next Gen HR’ – FistfulofTalent paneled the discussion.  I like these guys and they started some good debate.  It gravitated quickly to the merits of getting a PHR or an SPHR and to SHRM’s role in advancing the HR agenda.  That’s obviously important to people these days…have been seeing a lot of it.  I have to admit, though, I was bummed.  Big topic, small talk…

So I don’t purport to have any huge insights into what Next Gen HR is all about, but I do have something that I think we should all really think about.  What if the next big thing for HR isn’t big at all?  What if it’s right in front of our noses? It’s not about technology, it’s not about certifications, it’s not about programs, it’s not about social media (ok, just pretend for a moment), it’s not about how we educate and develop leaders, it’s not about how we manage risk, it’s not about how we pay our people or how we benefit them, and it’s not about attracting the best and brightest.  Rather, it’s about the most fundamental component of human existence…I’m talking about the innate desire to commune and to connect.  I say Next Gen HR has something to do with:

  • less talking and more listening
  • giving our people guidelines, but trusting them to do what’s right or what’s good
  • a regular devotion to “breaking bread” together
  • hiring people who are happy and fun and funny
  • getting rid of assholes in the workplace…like zero tolerance
  • impromptu celebrations
  • less paper, fewer Emails
  • performance management that is based on behaviors – function over form
  • open and honest communication
  • more genuine ‘thank you’s’ and fewer “reward and recognition” programs
  • the death of surveys and the birth of focus groups
  • less strategy…yes, less strategy…and more ‘go with the flow’

There’s more…oh so much more.  But it’s more of less.  I think we need to stop worrying about the next big thing, and start thinking about how we can bring a new dynamic to the workplace…SIMPLICITY!

  1. November 16, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Charlie, I am in %100 percent agreement. I think the mindset behind the next generation of HR people is more simple. I do think that the big challenge is to mesh the difficulties and barriers of the function (legal, compensation, regulations, company CYA, etc) with the personality, empathy and close personal relations of the people. The more we can connect and build relationships with the subordinate, middle manager and executive level employee, the more we can become a trusted resource and strategic partner!

    Keep em coming!

    • November 16, 2009 at 4:51 pm

      i’ve often said that the role of HR is sometimes just to walk that fine line between what “is right for the company” and “what is right for the people.” unfortunately, the two don’t always equate. either way, i think so much of what we do should be about building meaningful and lasting relationships…

      thanks for the comment!

  2. November 16, 2009 at 10:55 am

    Charlie – thanks for mentioning the show and for your comments here and on Twitter. As a technology person, I have to disagree with you, Next Gen HR is ALL about technology! I am kidding of course. I think you make some great points, do the small things right, consistently and over time they will add up.

    I was surprised how much SHRM and certification talk there was on the show, every time those things have come up it generates a lot of energy and conversation. So go figure. Hopefully one day when your schedule allows you can come on and help explain it to me.

    Thanks again.

    • November 16, 2009 at 4:54 pm

      appreciate your thoughts, steve. i do think technology needs to play a critical role in next gen hr – and already does. i think we all have to be careful about which technologies simplify and which complexify…you know better than anyone that technology doesn’t always = better.

      more than anything, thanks for your role in really changing the face of HR – you’ve forced debate, initiated dialogue, and built the community…at the end of the day, doesn’t really matter what we’re talking about as long as we’re talking. thx!

  3. Lee
    November 17, 2009 at 10:05 am

    Loved this blog. I think this is about humanness. It is about the Golden Rule. It is about treating our employees like customers and trying to make them right and happy. It is about peace, acceptance and true partnering. It is about not bossing, not using power, not talking down, not demeaning.

    • November 17, 2009 at 10:49 am

      @lee the golden rule is so often overlooked in the workplace and would accomplish so much if we could remind people of its importance. thx for the comment.

  4. Lee
    November 18, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    I was on a flight to DC this morning with 30 WWII veterans. I sat next to a 91 year old navigator who flew 50 missions in Africa. I asked him what he most remembered and he told me it was his pilot who over time taught him how to fly the B17 to the point that the pilot said that if something ever happened to him during the flight that this navigator was to take over. I thought of this blog as I heard the story. Of all his experiences this guy remembered most being treated like a capable, special person by someone he admired.

  5. Dawn Hrdlica @dawnHRrocks
    November 24, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    Hey Charlie–
    Back to Basics is ALWAYS a good call. Your mantra…Simplicity…matches my new mantra “Let it Be”….we are on the same page.

    • November 24, 2009 at 6:48 pm

      @DawnHRRocks Glad I have another enlistee in the march toward an “under-engineered approach to HR.” Looking forward to knocking it around with you a bit. Thx for the comment.

  6. November 24, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    Can I just nod my head up and down?
    This is the heart of what I’m writing about on the new blog.

    Toss it out.
    Great thoughts – and I like this idea of “breaking bread together” – it used to be called fraternization (and was a huge no-no, and all that ever did was build the Great Wall of Management.

  7. November 24, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    You hit the Nail on the Head! Everything you just said.
    I am thinking we all need to go back to the basics. My favorite though is less talking more listening.
    LOVE IT!

  1. November 17, 2009 at 9:07 am

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