Value destruction

The economics of the employment relationship are pretty simple.

We hire resource, put it together and hope to extract more value from it than we invested.

It really is as simple as that.

Now that value could be financial or it could be something else, it really doesn’t matter in this sense. But the point is, that everything that diverts resource away from adding value is destroying value.

– Every time we create a form that isn’t necessary
– Every time we hold a meeting that doesn’t need to be held
– Every time we ask for a report we don’t need
– Every time we add another level of sign off
– Every time we ask for another presentation
– Every time we include someone in an email, FYI

We talk about creating value, but what if we focused on stopping destroying it?

People should be facilitated to do their job, to have purpose and contribute to something and to do the work we pay them for.

Not tied up in endless process and organisational spaghetti.

Our goal, our strategy if you will, has to be to maximise the return on investment and that means freeing people up to use their talent, skills and ability.

Not checking whether they are.

HR is UX

Over the past few years, I’ve written repeatedly about simplicity being fundamental to the future of organisational management. I’m not alone, and increasingly there is a trend to recognise this. You know that when Deloitte starts referring to it as an emerging trend that it is no longer niche.

And whilst it is well acknowledged that simplicity is harder to achieve than complexity. I think, simplicity is…..well a little simple.

For me, the future of HR management lies in a concept that is often attributed to technology, but has as much, if not more, to do with human interaction. I’m talking about “user experience” or UX a term that didn’t really exist in this way until the mid 90s.

But UX and the approach to it can inform our HR and people management practices both in our use of technology and in the wider approach to employees.

It’s Sunday at time of writing and I’m feeling a bit lazy, so let’s borrow from Wikipedia the main benefits of UX based design,

• Avoiding unnecessary product features
• Simplifying design documentation and customer-centric technical publications
• Improving the usability of the system and therefore its acceptance by customers
• Expediting design and development through detailed and properly conceived guidelines
• Incorporating business and marketing goals while protecting the user’s freedom of choice

Anyone arguing with any of those? No, I thought not. But do we really practice it?

Think about when you open a new technology product. Let’s take an iPhone. The design, the presentation, the simplicity that belies the complexity beneath, the configurability and personalisation, the navigation and experience. Think of the excitement you felt the first time you saw or experienced one.

When smart phones came in to existence, nobody could see the point. The seemed like an expensive, laborious waste of time and money. But in time we’ve come to find them an essential that we can’t live without.

Now there’s a thing…..

The blame game

I understand your hurt,
And your disapproval.

I understand why you want to bring this to my attention,
And I’m grateful.

I understand why you’re upset,
And and I can see your anger.

I understand why you feel we could do better,
And how we could be more.

So I ask you.

What did you do recently that could have been better?
Where could you have done more?

When did you upset someone?
And how did you deal with their anger?

What did you learn about how you could be better?
And how did you take that?

And, most importantly, how do you feel,
When you hear disapproval?

Each time you complain.

Each time you forcefully make your views heard.

It’s unique.
For you.

But if you’re the person on the phone.
Behind the desk. In the office.

If you’re the person paid to listen.

You’re just another one.

Nothing special.

So what could YOU do. To make that experience difference?

To make it beyond the ordinary.

To really make YOURSELF stand out.

I. Am. Human.

Following the last two conferences I’ve spoken at, I’ve received the following unsolicited feedback,

“You don’t speak like an HR person”

On both occasions, I’ve assumed it was a compliment and taken it as the best bit of feedback I could receive. I hope I don’t look like an HR person either (no tissues in this cardigan baby) but there is always room for improvement.

The serious point here is that language is important. The words we use, the tone we use, the way in which we communicate both verbally and in writing. They matter.

I don’t care what the intention is, if the language sends out a different message. That’s what people infer.

You tell people what they can’t do. Why not tell them what you want them to do?

You tell people what will happen if they don’t behave. Why not tell them what will happen if they do?

We use a whole vocabulary that means nothing to the vast majority of human beings. A dictionary of terms that have been created to make us feel “strategic” as we “partner” with the business to deliver “value adding interventions” to maximise our “human capital” and drive “employee engagement”.

Or instead we could work with you to make this place better, you happier and the business successful.

But then. We might have to explain how.

Which would require us to think. And not produce another strategy document.

Which could prove tricky.

I am not Human Resources. I am human.