Let’s Explore !!

A highlight of our trip to Houston was the NASA Johnson Space Center. It was a pleasant surprise because we didn’t expect it to be so rich and full. We thought we’d spend a few hours milling around and then we’d head to another site. However, we ended up spending our entire day there and we didn’t get to fully experience all the Space Center has to offer.

As we looked at the various displays, we’d get lost reading the intricate details which described each item. We saw space suits, moon rocks, different pieces of equipment used on missions and so much more. Even though it was a vast collection, I’m sure that it doesn’t even scratch the surface of all that it has taken to accomplish the many milestones and new boundaries throughout the history of the space program.

There was a common thread woven through the museum. The men and women of the space program all had a sense of adventure, a willingness to take risks, and the faith that success was sure to occur. It’s hard to grasp the depth of all that went into making space exploration a reality. The hours of math. The countless experiments. The innovative new materials that were developed. You can’t possibly name all of the different things that came to life prior to any semblance of the level of technology we have today.

They were, and are, explorers. They have a perspective of always looking ahead to what could possibly happen. It evolved from rockets, to space flight, to Skylab to the International Space Station, and possibly flying to Mars. The telescopes and satellites keep reaching farther and farther to the ends of our galaxy trying to capture visuals of the universe itself !! It’s fascinating and ever-changing.

Of course, it made me think of Human Resources. I thought to myself – What would HR look like if we reached for the next horizon?

You have to know we’re the ONLY profession that is far too self-reflective while also being self-destructive. We aren’t looking for what’s ahead. Instead, we bemoan all that is “wrong” and our endless shortcomings. If you spend any time at all reading about HR or taking in webinars and conference presentations, you hear the message of endless fixing and patchwork attempts to repair a never functioning industry.

Yuck. Seriously. Does that type of approach make ANYONE excited about being in our field? We’re having ongoing, in-depth arguments about how to “rename” what we do thinking that will position us to finally take on a tangible, relevant leadership mantle. It needs to stop. Now.

I think we need to be explorers !! We need to look out into the abyss of our profession and the approach of our organizations and see how we can venture out to reshape, redefine and renew it all. If we were more like astronauts, we’d eagerly work toward seeing what’s next. We’d have the passion and anticipation of making a discovery that would alter how work is done and how people are treated.

We need to take all of the good work that has been done in HR and treat it as a solid foundation from which to launch. We need to cease retreading one program and initiative after another hoping to uncover a hidden gem. They may exist, but not in what we’ve done so far.

It’s time for us to explore. I’m tired of listening to the message that tears our profession down. I believe in what we do. I believe in humans and that most of them are good. I know that companies can be people-first AND perform !! We can reach heights never before seen or thought of.

Will you join me as we tackle the immense, complex and inviting HR universe which lies before us? I hope you will !!

Tell Me Something Good !!

I took a few weeks off from writing a blog for some much needed PTO and a chance to get away to be with HR peers and also family. A few weeks ago my wife and I got to explore the wonderful city of Houston, Texas. I was invited to speak to a company’s HR team as part of their off-site team-building gathering.

Our travel was uneventful and I was geeked to get to the venue to meet the Perry Homes folks. We were unsure of where to go because we had never visited this sprawling metropolis before. I was a bit anxious because we were getting uncomfortably close to the time I was supposed to speak. I hadn’t set up yet. I didn’t know what the room looked like. How would the AV work? And, how many people would be present?

My wife was patient and reassuring as she usually is. She said to skip checking into our hotel and just get to the retreat. She’d stay with me and we could check-in after I was done. This was just what I needed to hear. She provided the first good thing to happen on our adventure. We soon met the second good thing and that was Angela.

Angela was the contact from Perry Homes who was eagerly awaiting our arrival on the first floor of the converted industrial building. I approached her because I felt we were lost and she calmly said, “I’m waiting for our speaker and his wife.” I let out an audible sigh of relief and said, “That would be us.”

“Fantastic !!” she exclaimed. “We’ve been very eager to meet you and look forward to what you have to share.” Then she showed us up to the theater room (a legit one with big, comfy recliners) and I was able to get things ready to go. My wife was going to wait outside and Angela went out and invited her in. “You should join us.”

The room had 20+ members of the HR team and I was fortunate enough to hear the business at hand. The leaders were positive, encouraging and upbeat. They shared current success stories and news of good things to come. This was a phenomenal environment to jump in and give my presentation. We laughed, learned and shared a good hour together. As the team got ready for a volleyball game, food and drinks, Angela handed my wife a list of things to do and places to eat while we were in town. I also received recommendations by email from some of the HR team. They wanted us to have a great weekend together in their city. Good thing number 3 !!

After sharing in the Tex-Mex lunch buffet, we headed just a few miles away to check in to our hotel. Standing behind the desk was good thing number 4 – Yolanda. “Welcome !!” she exuberantly greeted us while we were a good five feet from her station. “I’ll bet you’re here to spend some time at our great hotel. I’m so glad you chose us. Now, let’s get you settled.” She continued to gleefully talk to us throughout the process. She let us know that she’d be available for anything we needed throughout our stay.

You may be skeptical and think that Yolanda just had great training and she was reciting a script for exceptional customer service. You’d be wrong !! We saw her over the next few days and she remembered us and asked how our stay was going. I watched her treat every person with interest, engagement and grace. It oozed out of her. She and I had a chat and she said, “I’ve been doing this for 20 years at this hotel and I just love it !! I’m going to be 60 soon, and I know that I won’t be doing this forever, but I’m going to enjoy it while I can.”

My wife and I had an incredible time in Houston. We went to the restaurants the Perry Homes folks recommended. We took some of the sites in town including the NASA Johnson Space Center and the traditional game of miniature golf we play on every vacation. Yes, we had a few snags during our trip like traffic and a few bumps in our plans. However, the majority of our time was exceptional.

Too often we walk through our daily lives burdened by fret, concern and the perceived anticipation of what will go wrong. Our focus is based more on obstacles, problems and potential pitfalls than it is on anything good. What a difference it makes when you intentionally refuse to get swallowed by those negative influences. There is so much in front of us that is good.

I’d love to say “great”, but I’m a realistic optimist. Good works. Good is available and sitting right in front of us. This week take a deep breath and clear your mind. Then, as you step into what’s ahead of you, look for the good things. They’re waiting for you !!

To get you in the mood with a dash of funk and soul, here’s some Rufus and Chaka Khan !!

Just My Imagination . . .

Last week my wife and I were able to do one of our favorite things – go to the theater !! We saw the incredible show – Ain’t Too Proud – which chronicles the remarkable career of The Temptations. The moment you see the marquee lit on the stage you can feel tingly anticipation. We were pretty familiar with many of their songs and when the first note hits you were instantly transported back to 1960’s Motown.

The show is a mix of hit after hit sung beautifully by the cast while also being craftily narrated by the character playing Otis Williams. He is the founder of The Temptations and the only living original member at 80 years young. The group’s story is filled with a series of amazing highs as they reached the heights of fame over several decades. They broke barriers and crossed over from being seen only as a black R&B group to becoming one of the all-time best-selling and recognized groups around the world. Their music is timeless and has outlived their heyday.

As magnificent as their success was, they were also plagued and marred by dramatic lows including struggles with egos, infighting, drugs, alcohol and untimely death. The show candidly covers these lows just as much as they did the aspects of success. The destructive behavior of some of the original members led to the difficult decision to ask them to leave the group. When group members were replaced, they experienced the magic of being a Temptation until their humanity crept in and the same set of harmful behaviors started showing in new members as well.

Towards the end of the show, Otis shares that there have been 26 members that have been Temptations over their 60+ years of existence. It’s a factual, sobering statement. It’s not one of pride and joy. It’s more an observation of survival.

Like most things, I see a parallel that applies to HR in my life experiences. When it comes to talent in our organizations, we will often overlook behavior that pulls teams apart if someone is talented “enough.” We will suffer through whatever shenanigans they do because they produce results. We need to be honest about this. Leaders will turn the other way and say things like “that’s just the way __________(insert name here) is.” We excuse detrimental actions without so much as a peep.

Otis Williams did just the opposite. David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks were once in a lifetime talents as musicians and performers. However, when Ruffin’s drug addiction and Kendricks’ dissension about the group’s direction tried to alter the trajectory, Williams asked them to leave. Think of the courage that took. It was very possible they wouldn’t survive the loss of these two originals. Thankfully they did.

It’s very challenging when talented team members become “bigger” than the organization. There is no doubting their skill level and contribution, but there is more value in having a collaborative and cohesive culture. ALL people are talented, not only a few. Make sure that you keep consistency in your culture and value the contribution from every person. That has far more longevity than focusing predominantly on the bright shiny stars.

One of The Temptations most stirring hits was “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)” As I close, take a listen and see the power and beauty of a group that performs as one. Let’s make sure we do the same in our companies !!

On Loan

Do you have neighbors? I’m fortunate to have some great ones all around me. With Spring just starting to burst forth, it’s time to get out in the yard. I know that if I need a hand or to borrow a tool (or two) from one of my neighbors, they’d be very willing. I am the same. It’s great to be in a position where we’re willing to help each other out.

The key to any tool borrowing is the understanding that they’re returned in good shape after they were used. It’s wonderful to have the right implement to complete the tasks at hand, but there’s never an expectation you get to keep the borrowed tool(s). In fact, if you did keep your neighbor’s tools, they’d be less likely to let you borrow any more in the future.

This past week I was enjoying an episode of the HR Social Hour Half Hour Podcast featuring a friend from Scotland – Scott Leiper. He shared a wonderful perspective he heard from the incredible Kirsty Mac who reminded him to look at employees who work at our company as being “on loan.” I loved this the moment Scott shared it. He went on to frame that he loved this as well and it helped him view people in a much healthier way.

You see, we don’t view people as being with us for a period of time. We think of them in permanent terms very quickly after they join our companies. In fact, we’re quite put off when someone decides to leave our organization. We may even become indignant because we just don’t understand why someone would “turn” on us. If we were honest, we may miss someone if they change jobs, but we’re more likely upset because we worry about how this transition will impact us !! It’s true. We continue to talk in terms of job requisitions to be filled instead of humans bringing talent to our teams.

Add on top of this the sentiment expressed by most employees that they’re rarely engaged or recognized if they stay with a company. The mantra we continue to perpetuate is about work, tasks, procedures, strategies, and goals regardless of who is accomplishing those things. It’s astonishing that we keep people at our companies at all !!

Let’s turn the narrative around. Let’s embrace the reality that we have our people for a period of time. Let’s encourage them to stay awhile and value them every day for all they do. Let’s get excited for the entire time we have “borrowed” them to allow them to perform, thrive and drive our organizations forward. How would your culture and workplace look if you understood you only have a finite amount of time to work with those around you? I’d bet it would matter and you’d make sure everyone was anchored, involved and valued. You would make sure their talent was used to do the good work you had in front of you each day.

Let’s quit talking about, and focusing on, people changing jobs as part of some Great Whatever !! We have to quit following the next big trend to just mimic and bemoan our circumstances. Let’s celebrate the time we get to have with our people instead. We should use the full term of our loan so when it’s completely paid we get excited for the next step of their career.

From now on remember that our people are on loan. They’re going to be given back to our “neighbor” throughout their career. Trust me. When you do this you will start making the first foundational step of truly being a people-first organization !!

Intersections

As much as we’d like our lives to play out in a straight line, they just don’t. We’d love to live in such a manner that we have only positive experiences and little to no conflict. It sounds perfect, but we know this isn’t the case. We can go through ups, downs and quick moves sideways within the same hour !!

Since this is our reality, we have a choice to try to maneuver through this erratic pattern alone or with others to come alongside us. Honestly, too many people are trying their best to just slog through whatever is facing them primarily on their own. I don’t think they’re trying to be defiant or elusive. I just think it’s just the messaging we believe or hear from others. We don’t want to put someone out because of what we’re facing. We’re sure we’d be a burden and it’s not that big of a deal really.

I don’t buy it. We weren’t created to go through life alone. We’re wired to be connected and available for those that pass through our lives. We all have intersections we go through over time. They may be life events like school graduations, marriages, getting a job or death. Those types of intersections get the most attention, but they are few and far between over the course of our lifetime. There are a multitude of other times when our paths cross with other people.

Photo by Kaique Rocha from Pexels

At the crack of dawn this past Friday, I was buying some donut holes at our local Meijer to take to my men’s group when I encountered Jane at the self-checkout. I was the only patron in the store and her eyes lit up when I walked up to scan my items. She asked if I was ready for the Spring snowstorm which was predicted for Saturday morning. I said I was, and then she told me it would be “nothing” compared to what she was used to.

One thing to note – Jane is most likely in her mid to late 70’s. She is a treat and she seems to be working at Meijer 24/7. Back to the story . . .

She went on to tell me about growing up on a 500-acre farm that had livestock and crops. She shared details about monumental snowfall, endless chores, hard work, and how she loved every moment. I also learned about the family restaurant her parents started after her father sold the farm so her mother could continue to work. She was tickled that it was one of the few restaurants on the way from Cleveland to Pittsburgh so everyone who passed by would inevitably stop in to try her mom’s famous cooking.

I was just checking out to buy some donut holes.

However, Jane wanted to connect and talk. She felt the need to share her life and be a welcoming start to my day. I had a feeling that she’d have these impromptu conversations with anyone who was willing to stop and give her a few minutes. I met her at an intersection. Those few minutes were rich, meaningful and worthwhile. It was a great way to start the day !!

Yesterday, as I was reading through Twitter, I saw a tweet from an HR peer who shared about his current job search. He was being vulnerable and shared his frustration. He was questioning whether he should stay in HR or not. This caught my attention because someone tagged me and a handful of other practitioners as examples of people who believe in HR. They noted that we do our best to encourage, elevate and move the field forward.

I didn’t take this as a pat on the back. I saw it as another intersection. I sent a direct message to the young man working to land his next great HR role and offered to help him in any way I can. We don’t live in the same city and I don’t yet know what he is/isn’t looking for or what his journey has been. However, I know that I can do something with my network to try and open a door for him. We’re talking on Tuesday and I can’t wait to get to know him more and see where it leads.

I don’t believe these encounters are random or coincidental. I look for people intentionally all the time. I make myself available in the event an intersection presents itself. Also, I’m open and looking for others when I’m crossing intersections in my life. I welcome those who take the time to stop and listen.

This week make sure you’re looking for intersections with those who cross your path. Or, if you need someone to meet you at your intersection, be open to whoever shows up. The key to either way is to not just walk past. Stop and see what happens !!

Pulling Threads

I’m a proud child of the 70’s !! I grew up in the time of bell-bottom jeans, paisley shirts and long hair. Clothes covered in multiple patterns were the norm. It didn’t seem out of place at all because that’s what you saw most people wearing. One of our favorite things to do was to let our jeans and shorts (because they were denim too) fray. The more loose threads the better. You didn’t want to be seen wearing anything that looked prim and proper.

You never cut the loose threads or tears in your pants to add more. You just let them naturally unfurl and give more “style” to your wardrobe. Ironically, some 50 years later people pay to purchase jeans and shorts that looked just like I wore, but the price is much higher to be stylish today.

I enjoyed the loose threads of my youth, but I’m a bit concerned about the ones I come across now in the workplace. This isn’t about clothing. It’s about people pulling on any loose thread they can throughout the workday. It seems that conversations that are occurring consist more as a bundle of individual threads which have no consistency. Each interaction seems to stand on its own with seemingly no logical connection . . . except for one.

The connection belongs to the person(s) who pulled the thread in the first place. If they feel that resolution is made on their singular item, then all is good for them and with everyone else. That just isn’t the case. It’s good that they were able to bring some closure to their item, but that singularity lacks context. It would be amazing if the singular encounters lead to some level of continuity. However, most of the threads remain threads.

Trying to be productive and get work accomplished through an endless ball of loose threads is exhausting. You can’t keep up with one situation before someone comes to you with another one that is completely unrelated. Another factor that compounds this approach is that people have little tolerance for situations if the thread is not theirs. They seek only to have the item which is in front of them addressed.

When this approach is prevalent in organizations, the workplace, and the culture slowly unravel. It’s unfortunately what we spend the majority of our time on during each day. Thread after thread slowly pulled creating more snags and obstacles. People don’t see it either. They’re trying to do their jobs. They aren’t trying to be malicious or difficult. With this reality we find ourselves wandering down a series of paths that may cross every once in a while but not often enough.

As leaders in HR, we need to be those who listen to the separate threads and pull out our needles to sew them back together. Instead of allowing disparate and disconnected conversations to continue to build, we need to show how together they make an incredible fabric. A fabric that soon turns into a stylish piece of clothing that can be worn and exhibited to one and all. Someone needs to step in to be the tailor.

You see, tailors don’t see threads. They see what can become of the threads. They know when everything gets pulled together over time an amazing garment appears. We all want to be in a workplace that is effective, connected and moving in generally the same direction. Without tailors, you will only have a bundle of separate threads.

This week refuse to keep chasing the fraying actions that have been consuming so much of your time. Instead, pull out your needle, grab some threads and start sewing. You’ll soon see how effective this approach is for you, your leadership and your employees.

Let Love Rule

I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m a self-avowed HR Hippie. I dig the vibe, approach and general sentiment of seeking balance in all areas of life. That includes physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Before you read further, please know this isn’t a New Age post. I’m just sharing a viewpoint from my perspective that I’ve seen work over and over.

Just when we think that the world is coming to its senses, we find it pulling itself apart once again. Like most, I’m very concerned with all that is unfolding on the world stage. It’s a bit daunting because I’m sitting on my laptop thousands of miles away while others are wondering about their basic safety. To try and position anything of note during this time seems incongruent and frivolous. However, life continues to move in and around us while the conflict advances.

I feel that we’re in a time when we could reach out to each other intentionally instead of following the feeling that the fabric of society continues to unravel. It may seem like we’re in a loop of self-destruction everywhere we turn. I don’t want to succumb to that myself, and I don’t want to see those around me breaking down either. In the end, we can take action in a measured and effective way.

We can choose to love others regardless of how they treat us. You may feel that’s naive and Utopian, but as I mentioned before, it works. The difference is that I’ve seen it work when you stop to notice the individual in front of you. Mass efforts may bring a swell of great intentions, but they’re not sustainable. Most people also don’t have the capacity to effectively continue with a large number of relationships. This shouldn’t dissuade you though from approaching others from a loving vantage point.

I can hear the detractors screaming that we can’t say, or show, that we love our employees at work. It’s out-of-bounds or unwanted. People only desire a professional, arms-length relationship with their employer. It’s bad HR and bad practice in general to express love for others in the workplace.

I disagree.

Today, more than any time that I can recall, people are looking for ways to anchor and belong. That is true personally and professionally. This is much deeper than “engagement.” Every day in my role, I spend the vast majority of my time intentionally one-on-one with people. I know firsthand that this matters to their wellbeing, their balance, and how they will most likely approach others. It doesn’t matter if I’m spending time with fellow executives or people on the front line. They want to be seen, heard, valued and understood. They want to share their thoughts, opinions, joys and concerns.

Therefore, I choose to love them so that all of those actions can happen openly and without any sense of fear or hesitation. Please don’t misconstrue this as something that is flowery and squishy. Just the opposite. It is very intentional, respectful and direct. When people know that you are seeking them out and paying attention to them, you are going to be more successful than not in helping them feel safe, perform and thrive.

I may not be able to change the world stage, and I ache for those who are facing situations and an environment that is potentially life-threatening. I can, however, chip away and show a different way one person at a time. I can choose to let love rule.

A Blogging Quandry

I have a wandering mind. At times, I’ll sit and ponder things just to work through different thoughts, ideas, or explore several angles to consider things. It’s not easy for me to hear something that is shared by someone else and instantly take it just as it was stated. It’s like looking at a painting in a museum. If you stand in front of it long enough, you’ll discover more and more that you initially didn’t even notice. If you listen to others as they pass by the same painting, you’ll hear how they take in the art and it may not include anything you witnessed or felt.

I love that about humans !! We were intentionally created differently. No one person is the same. As much as we’d like more conformity in the hope that we’d have less variety and variability, it’s folly. All of these meanderings have been creeping into my thoughts pushing me to grapple with this urge to respond.

Blogging is an outlet for me. It has been since I started writing on this site 11 years ago. What started as a Christmas gift from my sister-in-law has become a blank canvas that allows me to empty my mind of the constant flow of movement and gathering of thoughts and observations. I enjoy sitting down once a week on Sunday afternoons to stare at the white screen and start typing. It refreshes and fulfills me.

You see, I was a post-early adopter of blogging. I knew of several folks I am fortunate to also call friends who had started sharing content in 2007 and 2008. I loved learning from them and allowing them to expand my horizon and viewpoints not only on HR, but on business, music, and life in general. Back then, you couldn’t keep up with the multitude of authors. It seemed like people had found a platform where they could share and reach audiences around the world. The conversations that had been taking place inside the four walls of offices now had an endless landscape that was no longer bound by geography, language or time zones.

When I joined in, it was exciting and the array of blogs grew, expanded and flourished. Unfortunately, that energy and focus has waned. I should have guessed this would be the case because every format of communication has a season. Blogs turned into podcasts, webinars and conference sessions. Some even became books trying to capture a compilation of posts like the old “greatest hits” albums you could get from your favorite musical artist.

I’m not trying to be overly sentimental or critical. As time passes, things change. I do have one concern though that I want to point out so we don’t revert to times before blogging.

Image from Editorial Cartoonists – Cox & Forkum

You see, prior to blogging and social media, the HR profession was barely connected. There were pockets of professionals that may have met in person in their city or town, but they didn’t have access to much new information. The profession was predominantly about compliance and tactics. You never heard about anyone who tried to break through and change this approach. It was like an endless cul-de-sac which looped and looped eternally waiting for the next legal update to be issued.

When blogging began, it was similar to explorers pushing past the existing boundaries and refusing to stay in the loop. I get the feeling now that a new loop is starting to form because the dawn of exploration has diminished. People are settling back into the pockets of their sphere of relationships and are starting to make smaller and smaller cohorts.

Within their group, they are still effective and engaged. What’s missing are the voices who are still curious, uncomfortable and disruptive. People willing to challenge the norm and seek new ways to evolve and create. People eager to keep the flame of exploration alive so that the “next” great horizon can be uncovered and developed.

This isn’t a call to return to the golden days of blogging. However, it is a gauntlet to throw down and not let our profession settle and step back. There is so much that is yet unknown. There is so much that is yet to exist. There is so much room to encourage, push forward and elevate humanity. We can’t fall back. We can’t dissipate. It may be daunting, tiresome and overwhelming to maintain the call to move ahead. But we must.

And, so I blog . . .

HR Improv !!

A few weeks ago, my wife and I were able to get out on the town and catch a live show. It was magnificent !! To be able to get to see live entertainment would have been wonderful enough, but on top of that we were able to laugh for almost two straight hours. We went to see a comedy improv show featuring two of the regular cast members of the show Whose Line is it Anyway? – Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood.

If you’re not familiar with the TV show, it’s all improv comedy. They come to the stage with some general ideas of the scenes they are going to play, but they rely on the audience for suggestions and clues to character and direction. They have incredible skill because even the most outrageous suggestions are easily woven into their work without missing a beat. It’s a wonderful art form. I sat in the audience completely captured by every moment, shift and adaptation with what seemed to be absolutely incongruent fragments of ideas as they all came together.

Of course, it reminded me of HR !! I don’t know if we get to have nearly as much laughter as I did at the show, but every day we’re faced with the unknown. To me, this is what makes the profession so wonderful and attractive. Not knowing what will come next is invigorating. It really is. In fact, because we get the privilege of working with people, our days can’t be predictable. That’s because each person is unique and sees things through a lens that is linked specifically to them.

Ironically, we complain about this. We want to have everyone be the same. We long for the same behaviors, the same reactions and that everyone would just “stay in line.” We believe the myth that if this is how working with people was, then HR would be much easier. However, it would also be dull and lifeless.

We were meant to be improv artists in HR !! Think of it. Each day you’re given just a few snippets of a situation and then you have to assess, create and act to make everything “come together.” Isn’t that fantastic ??!! When you do this, you’ll see that you have an innate ability to work with each person for who they are instead of trying to make them conform to a listless script.

So, this week instead of trying to make everything fit into a predictable pattern that can’t truly exist, step into your reality and get ready to improvise. It’s far more natural and even – entertaining !!

Right Role, Right Time

WHO DEY !!!

I know this isn’t the traditional way to start an HR blog, but I’m a Cincinnati Bengals fan. I have been for decades. The last time they were this good was just after I moved to the Cincinnati area in 1986 !! Sure, we’ve had a few years where we made the NFL playoffs since then, but there hasn’t been this type of excitement for 30+ years !!

To be a Bengals fan is to be someone who has known long-suffering. For years, you’d watch games on TV and listen to the broadcasters talk primarily about the other team. They’d list the multiple years the team never won a prime time game. Or, they’d talk about how we hadn’t won a playoff game for over 30 years. Last night was the first “away” playoff game they won . . . EVER !!

It’s hard to capture the joy and exuberance that I experienced when our rookie kicker hit the game-winning field goal as time ran out. I was clapping and screaming in my family room by myself and I didn’t care. It was wonderful to see the local media, social media and the entire city come together to celebrate. In fact, our local news is covering every possible Bengals aspect for the majority of each broadcast. It’s ironic to see how something so simple can drown out the noise, negativity and divisiveness that tries to fully consume every moment of every day.

What made Saturday’s victory over the Tennessee Titans even better was listening to the post-game press conferences. Every player and the head coach talked about the team as a whole. When pressed to talk about their own personal play and accomplishments, they deferred and talked about how other players did better. They are performing as a unit and they understand that each member of the team has something of value to offer. They wouldn’t be swayed to lift one individual over another. It was refreshing to hear how they’ve adopted a culture that proves that ALL succeed when you play TOGETHER.

Of course, it made me think of HR and organizations today. I think we aspire to have fully functioning teams made up of people who are aligned in roles where they can perform. I truly do. However, I don’t think we do all we can to organize our companies in ways that can make this come to life. I feel that most still follow old models of identifying “hi-po’s” and force rank people to falsely put people into more significant roles. Our approaches are still laced with inherent bias and a popularity contest where those we “like” can advance. It’s tiring for people to know how to maneuver the hidden internal politics on a daily basis just to ensure they have a place . . . at all.

It’s time to ditch the old models completely. They have never given us the sustainable outcomes we’ve aspired to. Never. Aren’t you tired of complaining about people who seem to be out of place? I don’t fault employees for this misalignment. I think it falls to senior leadership to be equipped by HR to get this fixed. What would your day be like if everyone was in their “right” place and all they did was perform? It would be magnificent !!

You see, we’re riding a short-term dose of euphoria as Bengals fans. We’re caught up in the swell of the moment. Nothing wrong with that. The difference is that the team already believes this is the beginning of how they expect to perform not only for this postseason run but into the future. They don’t want it to be another flash in the pan or flavor of the month. Sound familiar ??

I’ve been taking the approach listed in the picture above over the past year of having the right person in the right role for the right time. It’s tough to do. Honestly, you fight decades of how people have been crammed into roles more to fit a job requisition than being thoughtful in getting people where they can excel on a regular basis.

This is the good “hard work” that lies ahead of us as HR professionals as we navigate this new landscape of work. It has to happen if you want to see your people, and your organizations, thrive. I’m tired of decades of aspirations just as much as I was being a Bengals fan “hoping” that things would change. Do what you can to assess, realign and get people where they need to be. They’re longing for it personally and the company is yearning for a set of teams full of talent to move things forward.

Oh, and for at least one more week . . . WHO DEY !!