Human Resources, Complacency and Making Mistakes

From the dusty archives is a repost of what was on my mind this time last year. Older post but a still relevant message for all.

There's no room for complacency in my HR.

In a recent Fast Company article, Why RIM Lost Its Crew, Its Groove, the author writes that complacency was one of the factors killing RIM. That's big. {If you weren't aware, RIM makes Blackberry. No worries, I own a Blackberry and didn't always know that either.}


A complacent satisfaction with present knowledge is the chief bar to the pursuit of knowledge.                                                                                     B.H. Lindell Hart

Complacent HR is content with the status quo and (did I say this already. . .?) there is no room for complacency in my HR. It threatens progress, it threatens growth and for HR leaders, it could threaten your very existence.

Let's take a look at an employee relations action you worked on and lost. You actually didn't lose it, you pulled it back before it was decided upon. You actions are good. Your odds are better than good on appeal.

Why would you do such a thing? You missed things. Things that, on appeal, could be problematic. More than that, you could not let your boss decide on an action that was anything less than complete.

Replace an employee relations action with a strategic workforce plan, a new recruitment initiative or an incentive award program proposal that misses the boat and it comes down to one thing: you got complacent.

Are these signs of complacency familiar to you?

  • You utter,"good enough" in the face of unanswered questions.
  • Your meetings on key issues end with without commitment or decision.
  • Your candor is lacking and your support goes to the loudest bidder.
  • You stick to what you've always done even when it stops working.

What else? You base your decisions solely on past actions, you begin to believe your own press, and you do not stay current on the legal landscape.

The good news about complacency is that it can be killed easily and the first step is admitting you have a problem. Then, you collaborate.

You speak with others. You seek feedback. You listen. Signs of complacency are more obvious to outsiders than insiders. You don't hold back. You do whatever it is you do to exit your funk. You get back in the game with both feet and even though it sounds counterintuitive, you make mistakes.

Mistakes cure complacency. Trust me, I know.

Photo credit: Jessica Hagy, Indexed

HR and Bad Days

My fellow #Trench HR pro, Charlie, had a Red Pensil day on Friday and I get it. I get it completely. I've been there, done it and have had enough of those days myself.

It's on those days when I reenact, when I doubt, when I want to lash out, and when I go home and wonder. . . 

  • Why me, why now and why must the stakes always seem so high?
  • Who let me down, what don't they get about getting it right and why did I just look outward?
  • What went wrong, what was missed and what, really, is the worst thing that can come of this?
  • When was the last time something like this happened? And realize it's been a long time.
  • Where can I make adjustments and tweaks to get things back on track?   

It's a feeling I've known too well throughout my career and one of the things that keeps me up at night until the sun comes up and then, as another day begins, I wonder, "how could I have even doubted myself, my leadership, my team, our commitment and our individual and combined capabilities?"

Bad things happen and it sucks when they do. Yes, I have had to bring my credibility to bear more times than I've wanted to (and that hurts) but the reality is - that's life. We roll with the punches and come back strong. We can do that because we are good. We are good at what we do and our track record speaks for itself.

It's not about HR, it's not about data, and it's not about technology working - or not. It's about coming to work and showing up and caring.

It's about leadership. I know that, you know that and from what I know about Charlie, I know that he knows that too. And I know that he is going to be all right.

We all are.