HR = Human Resistance?

LinkedIn Influencer Brian Solis uses the term Human Resistance for HR because this department often inundates employees with red tape.

Why is it, that talented and well-meaning professionals feel the urge to create pointless policies? My hypothesis is that it’s systemic, and it links to our personal lives:

My son and I had been at the beach and I put on a proper log fire for him. He loved it, and I realised that he had no concept of the possible danger, so I later allowed him to light up a candle to experiences heat in a controlled environment. I was criticised for that – he nearly six years old!

I reflected on this incident, my own childhood, and most likely yours, too: we were given far greater responsibilities, and did a lot of hair-raising stunts on playgrounds and in the woods. We were taught to take educated and calculated risks. And when we over did it, we learned a lesson and got a plaster. Our parents tightened the leash a bit and were possibly cautioned, mostly by friends, in rare cases by doctors or police officers. Life went on, and the vast majority of us never had a broken bone.

Today’s Zeitgeist is fundamentally different: we don’t give kids the benefit of the doubt, smother them and avoid risks at all costs. And every community has those deputy sheriffs who itch to report us to social services (who then get distracted from those headline-making horror stories; and each ‘system failure’ results in ever more policies…you can see the vicious circle).

Now imagine, you are an HR manager trying to do the right thing, but you have this constant background radiation on your horizon…we shouldn’t expect too much simplification in HR if our wider culture (that’s the same ‘we’) resists to take risks and responsibility.

This requires your integral self: you can’t credibly expect to innovate or simplify at work when you immerse yourself in a cloud of status quo and complexity for the remaining time. Our brains don’t like that. We therefore need to be aware of our own inconsistencies and strive towards integration of our various worldviews. This will also helps with today’s holy leadership grail: authenticity.

An HR Director who takes risks in their private lives is much more likely to reject a policy that is designed for that one bad apple on a large tree. And they take personal responsibility for that judgement call rather than hiding behind paragraphs and clauses. This kind of HR person empowers employees, and 99% rise to the occasion and practice Human Reliability.

By the way, according to Tom Gill, one of Britain’s foremost experts on child safety, rubber playgrounds may now be the cause of more broken limbs than were sustained on hard surfaces in the past…

Is this a call for more Human Risk-taking in our organisations?