My Hometown . . .

This post challenges HR to get back to truly knowing the employees of the company and not continue to let employees just show up for work.

For those of you who know me – I’m a music freak !!

For those of you who don’t know me – I’m a music freak !! 

One of my favorite artists is Bruce Springsteen and his classic album “Born in the U.S.A.” came out when I was in college and about to leave my hometown.  The last track on side two of the album (yes, album) was “My Hometown” and it hit me hard because even though I was going to leave my hometown soon, it brought up so many great memories.

You see, I hail from the booming metropolis (Village actually) of Ada, Ohio.  Ada has a population of just over 5,000 people.  It is technically the “center of the universe” if you didn’t know that because you can go anywhere from Ada , and if you travel around the whole world, you have to go through Ada.

That may not be a scientific fact, but it seemed like the center of the universe to me.  You see, in Ada, you know EVERYONE and EVERYONE knows you.  My school was K-12 in one building and my graduating class was an amazing 73 people !!  I loved every moment of my time in Ada because I learned the value of truly knowing people.

In Ada, it mattered to know everyone’s name and something about them because you were bound to see them somewhere around town and it was much better to have a conversation than just say, “Hey !!” (our version of “Hi!”)

Lately, this has been playing on me because in today’s organizations, we are more concerned with getting stuff done whether the people who are doing those things matter or not.  HR is a major culprit in not addressing this fault in company cultures.  We should be the ONE area that won’t stand idly by to have yet another employee ignored.

We spend so much time making sure people just show up and that is more important than seeing who they are, what they’re like and what they truly want to offer the company.

No more.

It’s time to use a little of that hometown experience at my workplace and at workplaces around the country.  Get to know your people.  You’ll be astonished at how incredible they really are !!

What do you think?  Is this too Utopian ?? Or, is it just overdue and we’ve forgotten how important this is ??  Let me know your thoughts.

14 thoughts on “My Hometown . . .”

  1. You couldn’t be more right, Steve. Being part of the corporate “family” goes a long way toward cooperation, retention, and willingness to give more when it is needed. I have known several good families (including my own) who have left companies because they and their families felt like they were not valued.

    A few years back, I had a boss who gave me and other women a lot of flexibility to balance motherhood with career. We worked longer and harder for that boss who valued us, than we EVER would have worked for someone who demanded it. In one case, two of us tag-teamed 20 hr shifts to meet a deadline that seemed impossible, all to show our boss we valued him, too.

  2. I love this Steve. One of the things I tell ALL new hires during orientation is that they are no longer allowed to look at their shoes when they walk around. What does that mean? I tell them they have to keep their heads up, make eye contact, and say hello. In my business (pediatric hospital), we can not afford to appear disengaged or too busy to connect with those around us. Your message is right on target whether or not one works in a healthcare setting.

    Love the new blog!

  3. I’d sit on his lap in that big buick and old steer as we drove through town.. I remember it well. I still play it now and again on my iphone. I think it would be nice to go back to that, but the realist in me says it won’t happen unless there is someone there driving that change and making it happen.

    I could see you doing that Steve – but I don’t know that everyone hast the desire or ability to get it done.

    Good post – keep ’em coming!

  4. Hey Steve, just listened to your visit on Drivethru HR and found out about your Christmas gift of a blog. What a perfect gift for you! Looking forward to reading your posts.

    As for this entry I loved your comment, “We spend so much time making sure people just show up and that is more important than seeing who they are, what they’re like and what they truly want to offer the company.” Almost brought tears to my eyes. Sooooo true.Getting to know people on a personal level seems to be a lost art. But not to you. Thanks for inspiring so many to get out of their HR comfort zone!

  5. Kathi – Thx for the example of someone who understood the importance of the needs of their employees.

    Jay – Thanks for the support of the blog and for reminding folks to not stare at their shoes !! Priceless !!

    Dave – Love that you dig the Springsteen music and thanks for the insight. Agreed, not everyone has the ability to get it done, but I hope they have the desire to try.

    Kirk – If only everyone in HR was friendly !!! Love the input and the reminder !!

    Elizabeth – Thanks for the support about the #DTHR show and for the encouragement. Glad we’re connected and that you like the blog.

  6. Hey Steve,

    What a great article! I can’t agree with you more that getting to know people is IMPORTANT.

    I personally like to get to know people and establish the relationship that makes people feel like they can talk to you. This is what I miss about doing HR at a local location.

    Great second post. Keep them coming.


  7. Steve,
    You are meant to blog! We once worked with a company doing a team building event. We were brainstorming about things to improve the team. An employee said it would make her happy if the EVP would just say good morning in the coffee room. The EVP was in the room and he was shocked. He had no idea about the impact he was having on people. He said I’m just busy and concentrating on what’s next. He made a big effort to start acknowledging people.

    Good luck with the blog.

  8. Without relationship management, there is no sustainable growth. It isn’t an option, but too many companies treat relationships like master/servant rather than colleagues with a common mission and goal. It is a cultural problem that we must address at every level.

  9. Chris – Glad to hear that we’re more and more alike. Thought we were. Appreciate the feedback and knowing you have this approach.

    Jess – Thanks for checking out the blog !! The EVP story is solid and unfortunately way too common. Thanks for sharing it.

    Dennis – Love your comment and agree that relationships need to be sustainable and not superficial. I appreciate your comment and insight.

  10. Not too utopian at all. I call it “peopling”. If you let things get int he way of it then make yourself actually schedule a block of time each week for peopling.

  11. You are right! As a consultant, I get to travel the halls of many organizations. There are some as you describe but they are the minority. I can identify these “connecting” type organizations pretty readily. It’s a feeling I get. It’s observing how people interact with each other, how they take time to listen to each other. I can tell that it really impacts the morale and the overall satisfaction these people have with their work.

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  13. Hi Steve,

    You are so right when you say, “We spend so much time making sure people just show up and that is more important than seeing who they are, what they’re like and what they truly want to offer the company.”
    I agree, it happens too often. When was the last time HR asked an employe what they want to offer the company? We are HR! So I have to ask the obvious question… If we do not genuinely love people and the meaningful connections we can make with people………why are we in HR?

    Great Blog!

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