Start the year with a bang!

As HR people there are some fundamental truths we all know in our hearts:

  • traditional performance reviews don’t work
  • most recruitment processes don’t result in a good candidate experience 
  • engagement survey scores really are a waste of time
  • structured bonus schemes don’t motivate people

So why do we keep peddling this and lots of other crap to our CEO’s and staff when we know all these things are broken?  

If you do nothing else in January this year, have a think about all your current HR “processes” and take a ruthless look at everything you do. Ask yourself:

  • does it make this a better place to work?
  • does it add value to what our managers are trying to do?
  • is it a legal requirement that we have this?
  • if we stopped doing this tomorrow would anyone notice or care?
  • If we have to do it, is there a better way?

How good would it feel to pension off some of the worthless things you do?  Go on, I dare you. Blow up some stuff and start again.

The HR exit interview is my favourite example.  What a colossal waste of time these things are. We know it and the interviewee knows it. It is the classic case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted!  

I am not talking here about the useless information and statistics we gather from them and then do nothing with, or that gets ignored.  No, what I’m talking about is the culture that enables managers to be lazy and not manage or be accountable. The outdated view that somehow HR’s role is to oversee and manage the exit process, and that it’s important departing people need to have a confidential conversation with HR to really tell it how it is.

Surely our role in HR is to support managers to have better and more regular discussions with their staff so they get to know them better, know how they are feeling and whether they are a flight risk, and get the best out of them while they are with us.  People generally move on after a few years in a job. Many will do it anyway no matter how well we treat them and even if there is a long term career path. That is the nature of modern working life.  We take jobs for skills not life.    

So why do we ask them as they are halfway through the door what we could have done to make them stay?  Why is it often a shock when the star performer quits? More importantly, why are most HR processes still based on the assumption that employees are there for life?

What I have learned from years of conducting and reading exit interviews is there is never really a trend you can deal with that isn’t already obvious, unless your culture is so toxic and broken that you need to be looking at yourself in HR and thinking about whether you are in the right job. And if you are an organisation that obtains regular feedback from staff none of these things should be new information.

And that is because everyone is different. They have plans, needs and dreams and that means usually our organisation doesn’t fit into those long term. And plans/needs also often change. And that’s totally OK.  

It should be the case that our managers should know what each of their team want from the company and for how long.  That’s how they truly manage.  And if they know their star performer wants to start a family in the next 12 months, or move to another country, or bigger organisation, earn twenty grand more or start their own business, we should be totally cool with that and support them as an organisation while ensuring we get the best out of them in the meantime and have a transition plan in place. And other than enabling and encouraging that to happen, the rest is frankly none of HR’s business.

And before anyone says “yes, that’s all very well but our managers have neither the skills or time to do that” then make it your mission to give them that – NOT out of date useless feedback.

See, I’ve probably just saved you weeks of wasted time this year already.  So what else could you blow up by thinking about what really matters?  

Isn’t that what real human resource management is all about?  

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