When Do You Trump The Outcome of a Proven Process?

I was looking back through older posts for inspiration on an issue and came across this post from 2007. I don't even recall what the issue was but the message is about doing what's right and how we (and our processes) can get in the way.

If your HR is anything like my HR, you have processes. If your organization is anything like my organization, you have people. If your people are anything like my people, they have professional opinions, personal opinions and their own views of the world.

When personal opinions and personal views of the world creep into a professional work place process, my mode of operation is to let the process run its course and to keep the personal stuff out of it, especially if the process is a proven one.

So, what if  the proven process runs its course and, in the end, the outcome is called to question. What if the outcome MAY be perceived as detrimental to the integrity of the program? In a perfect world, processes established would always support and honor the integrity of the program but, we are human, we are not perfect and it just doesn't always work that way.

Now what?

At this point, there are two choices: accept the outcome or recommend a trump of the outcome. There are pros and cons to each and neither is without its repercussions. Weigh them out. 

  • How did the process produce this outcome?
  • Why is there an issue with the outcome? Is the issue valid?
  • Where does the program value lie - in the process or in the outcome?
  • What are the risks in compromising this? What are the benefits?
  • Is your organization willing to accept that? Are you?

Hard questions for a hard decision when the answers are not very clear. So, quiet the noise and do what's right.

Photo credit iStock Photo

On Pesky Little Rules

So let's say you make a decision. You put a lot of thought into the decision and you are comfortable with it. After making and implementing the decision, you later discover that there is a rule (for lack of a better word) that indicates you probably should not have made the decision that you did. You made the decision because, all things considered, it was the right thing to do. Yet, the decision was not consistent the rule.

What do you do?

Question the Rules

Decision makers that always defer to the rules, without question, are falling down on the job. The compliant rule-follower in me appreciates the foundation and guidance rules can provide and knows well that doing what's right may absolutely mean sticking to the letter of the law. However, that is not always, or often, the case. As decision makers, we get to spend a lot of time operating in the gray. Heck, if everything was black and white, we would not have any decisions to make. How boring!

The challenge for HR decision makers is to question the rules. Why? We cannot provide the service the organization or our customers expects or add the value we expect if we don’t. So before you blindly change a decision because of a pesky rule, take a closer look at that bugger and ask a few questions:

  • Does not following it jeopardize safety?
  • Does not following it violate a law, statute or something else legal?
  • If not for the rule, would you be questioning the value of your decision?
  • If not for the rule, would you make the same decision for a similar situation?

Do What's Right

There are differences between a course of action that violates a statute or creates a precedent you don't want to set and one that requires a change in the way things have been done or breaks new ground. We need to be able to distinguish between the two.

With each and every decision you make, you have an opportunity to make a difference.

So back to the decision you made to later find out it was not consistent with a rule. You ran through the questions and determined that the decisions does not jeopardize safety, does not violate a law, you are not questioning the value of the decision, and yes, you would decide the same in a similar circumstance. 

What do you do?

Question the rules, do what's right and let it go man, just let it go.