Leaders & HR, do we really understand our employees?


As HR professionals or as leaders of an organization, we are writing policies and procedures, developing benefit plans, creating pay structures, launching employee engagement initiatives, making hiring and firing decisions and other activities that impact our employee populations. Are we pausing to ask whether or not we truly understand what our customers’ needs are? Our employees’ needs? Do our practices align with what they need to get their jobs done successfully? Are we really serving them?

I can’t help but recall a policy that one of my HR departments wrote and enforced that was not aligned with helping employees get their jobs done successfully. It was the most ridiculous and complicated policy I have ever seen. In fact, I don’t even think I could explain it to you accurately. However, my experience with reading the policy, being asked to enforce it and training other leaders to enforce it was enough to make me start thinking – reflecting, really. Did my HR team really understand who its customers were when they wrote this policy?

To be effective leaders and HR professionals, we need to understand how our practices, policies and initiatives impact our employees. Sometimes, we focus so much on risk – creating policies to protect the organization from legal action, sending communications that are too business-oriented and complicated because we want to make sure that we document our conversations with our employees or rewriting procedures/policies because of one person or one incident.

We need to remember that the key is to manage risk, not let it manage you. Don’t let the fear of the legal system be an excuse for not providing your employees, your customers, with an engaging work environment where they can thrive, grow and have some fun!

Don’t make assumptions. Ask a lot of questions. Work next to your employees, not above them or below them. Be creative when determining how to best serve your customers, your employees. Make sure they are at the forefront of your mind when making decisions. Make sure they have all the resources and support they need to do their jobs in the most efficient and effective ways. Make sure you understand their perspective as they are the ones on the front line.

Please share your lessons learned on this topic and/or success stories via the comment box below or via LinkedIn or Twitter.


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