Knowing Why


It was great spending the last four days at the HR Florida conference with you and a lot of great HR professionals.  Between the sessions we presented and just hanging out around the conference, we got to connect with a lot of passionate and motivated HR pros.

As I thought about the overall conference and the conversations I had regarding the struggle and quest to improve HR, there was really one theme that kept bubbling up for me.  Improving HR and impacting our company comes back to intention.  I think that there is way too much “going through the motions” happening in HR where we are repeating the sins of those who came before us.  We have inherited systems and processes from the past that we then defend and build upon without knowing why or any understanding of the intention behind these approaches in the first place.

If I could wave my magic wand and make anything come true, I’d wave it and make it so that every HR professional in the world would be paralyzed to take action on anything they do until they understood why they were doing it and how it impacted the objective it was designed to achieve.  HR departments would ring with the sound of “why” every day for quite a while.

  • Why do we use numbers on our performance appraisals?
  • Why are salaries treated as private?
  • Why are we trying to automate everything?
  • Why do we survey for engagement?

When you start asking why a lot, particularly related to practices that have been around for a while, you start seeing opportunities to make progress everywhere.  The worst answer when asking why is “I don’t know.”  Because at least a bad reason is something you can work with to make a different decision.  Where there isn’t a reason or intention that is clear, then that’s a pretty good indication of activity for no purpose.

Any theme in particular come up for you?



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