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When HR Solutions Do Not Go Far Enough

When clients request baseline HR interventions such as review of personnel policies, job descriptions and compensation programs, they usually have underlying concerns which create a sense of urgency. Their reflexive response is to “fix” potential problems by creating clear job expectations and parameters for decisions.

And in many cases, focused attention to these initiatives can bring about important conversations and help the organization to work through garden variety people issues. However, none of these “nuts and bolts” approaches can replace deeper work that is necessary to bring about change.

The truth is, most HR solutions do not go far enough or dig deep enough to get at root causes of organization unease. And HR professionals are not fully equipped to diagnose what is going on behind the façade of organization life.  Nor should they be, because like everyone else, their view is limited to their particular perspective.

The truth is, the proverbial elephant in the room is viewed through many different lenses, whether it is IT, HR, Finance, executives, line staff or the customer. Rather than fix the problem, HR must accept the more rigorous challenge of initiating (and in some cases leading) the conversations necessary to examine the many facets of the elephant and to help translate the dialogue into meaningful data.

So, to wit, the first assumption to be shared by all stakeholders in an HR intervention is that an HR solution is never going to go far enough to address deep underlying discord in the organization system but is a little like a triage (or basic health check-up) that can potentially begin a collaborative process of exchange about what is going on inside the life of the organization.  While the underlying skill set for an HR professional looks much the same, the distinguishing competencies for an HR professional have more to do with asking good questions and setting the stage for collaborative problem solving and creative thinking to improve the way things get done.

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