Conventional Wisdom

By: MarkWeaver Monday June 22, 2015 comments

That’s what Philip Crosby called the traditional forms of Quality Improvement in his day.  As a best-selling author and Quality Guru, Phil approached quality from a whole different perspective from “Acceptable Quality Levels,” and an attitude of “That’s Close Enough.”  He spoke of “Zero Defects” and an attitude of “Do It Right the First Time.”  He also taught that a common language and education, employee education, and culture change were the way to make lasting change.

That’s the environment I learned to do HR in.  HR people weren’t talking like that then.  I joke that I didn’t learn HR for and HR person; I learned it from a Quality Guru.  Maybe that’s the reason I think non-conventionally about HR.  There is a traditional and accepted way of doing HR – often labeled “Best Practice” that can be nothing more than conventional wisdom.  It’s easy to fall into because the traditions are so pervasive.  Here are some examples:

  • People viewed and treated as “our most important asset.”  People are not a commodity that is owned or expended.  If anything they should be viewed as “our most important investment.”
  • Elaborate Employee problem-resolution processes that convey the message to employees that HR will solve their problems.  HR shouldn’t be solving most of the problems.  HR can help facilitate lasting solutions but the leaders and employees should solve most problems.
  • Complex compensation and reward systems that create a whole lot of administrative work.  Ask why.  Are you doing compensation like everyone else?  Are you rewarding for longevity in a day and age when longevity doesn’t exist much?  Are you rewarding someone to be good at what you’re already paying them to do?  People should be rewarded for significant contributions to strategic goals.  That aligns them with leaders and rewards performance that counts.
  • Detailed policy manuals that have more policies and procedures than anyone can possibly assimilate, many of which create more HR work, requiring more HR staff, creating a workforce more dependent on HR, while not helping employees or bosses make decisions.  Requirements can be defined in succinct and clear objectives, allowing everyone can understand how to “do it right the first time.”
  • Boring Job Descriptions that are so detailed that no one will really read or use them.  Roles are better defined by objectives within the big picture.  When we create a clear tie to the mission, vision, and values of the organization, you build an aligned team.
  • Intricate training programs that may satisfy the ego of the trainer or at least provide the things the trainer thinks everyone needs, but aren’t serving the needs that bosses could easily identify if asked.  The needs articulated by managers can be used to develop customized solutions rather than boilerplate off-the-shelf stuff that looks like someone else’s workplace.
  • Employee relations matters handled like a junior attorney trying to make everything impossibly 100% safe.  Employee relations matters should be handled like a strategic partner of the organization, with an understanding of the risk spectrum that executives are comfortable with and must operate within.  When executives understand the risk spectrum, they will be comfortable deciding where to land on it.
  •  A preponderance of forms that people have to fill out and sign in order to make simple changes and get services from a service department.  A better way is to find or create user-friendly tools, utilizing aps, social media, and systems that reduce paperwork, redundancy, and time.

Phil did not believe you could overhaul conventional wisdom overnight.  He believed that lasting solutions came from viewing work as a process, not a quality improvement program.  And he thought quality should not be relegated to a department – as important as that department may be.  Instead, quality should become part of the fabric of an organization.  All people strategies should be viewed that way!
At Open Door HR Solutions, we know it can be challenging to navigate the business of being an employer.  Politicians, bureaucrats, lawyers, employees and HR people can all make it more complicated.  With experience spanning traditional HR roles to COO, from HR to Operations to Quality, we think in terms of real world explanations and solutions.  We help employers build the right team – the team they need to achieve their vision.
Mark Weaver, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, QES
[email protected]

About the Author: MarkWeaver


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