Take a Stand !!

This post encourages HR to take aspects of Martin Luther King, Jr. and apply his efforts to their work today in organizations.

This past weekend I traveled to the heart of Amish country in Ohio to beautiful Berlin, Ohio for the Classic in the Country  basketball tournament.  It was a full weekend of great high school varsity girls basketball !!

The “unique” aspect of this tournament vs. others is that when the girls come out to the court before the game begins something other than the National Anthem occurred.  (Fear not, they play the Anthem at the beginning of each day.)  The announcer asked everyone to stand and then they played a quote from a Martin Luther King, Jr. speech.  It was incredibly moving – and relevant !!

You see, my daughter only knows of Dr. King from History class or a textbook.  Now that we are recognizing the 25th anniversary of the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, it made me reflective as well because Dr. King did things that we in HR should be doing as well . . .

Recognize Injustice !!

Too often HR sees things that happen in companies and seeks the middle ground vs. addressing things directly.  You see, if you ask Management, HR represents them.  If you ask employees, they’d say HR represents . . . Management.  The fact is that we represent all employees and we are obligated to look at all people practices that aren’t in the best interest of employees and get rid of them.  I’m not talking about obvious egregious or illegal behavior.  That’s a no-brainer.  I’m talking about policies (that we often generate) that do no good to the company.  Honestly, most of our polices are created to address a few people’s poor behavior that we should be addressing directly any way !!

Take a stand !!

Do you like being ambiguous and wishy-washy?  I don’t and I hope that as HR practitioners, you don’t either.  It’s tough to take stands on things but companies expect us to make decisions and not practice conflict avoidance.  People are tough.  There’s no doubt about that.  However, if you learn how to frame your approach and deal intentionally with people, you’ll be amazed at how effective an HR professional you’ll be !!

Be the one person !!

Too often people are waiting for someone to act.  When HR is passive bad things happen more often than not and you become the person who’s always “putting out fires.”  We desparately want someone to take action.

That needs to be YOU !!

Dr. King took action when it wasn’t popular, when it involved incredible risk, and it represented those who weren’t in power.  I want to be that kind of HR person all the time.

How about you ???

Image courtesy of WriteSpirit.net

10 thoughts on “Take a Stand !!”

  1. Steve, I couldn’t agree more! It is absolutely up to us as HR practitioners to be role models for our organization’s leaders and take a stand, particularly when the issues are sensitive. We do serve all employees, and should ensure our policies, communication, and actions demonstrate that obligation consistently.

  2. Fabulous. We should have more of this.

    I speculated on my blog that MLK day might just be the offical holiday of HR, if viewed as a real celebration of diversity and inclusion, two things that were at the heard of the good Doctor’s message. The more I think about it, the more it feels right.

  3. Totally agree with you. Reminds me of an old Dilbert cartoon when he had to face a tough situation…he had a “portable spine.” HA! I have to reach for mine every once in a while.

  4. I especially like the point about recognizing injustice. HR pros often tend to ignore stupid policies or policies that need to be modified because of changing circumstances and they will say – “sorry, that’s our policy”. CEO’s and business leaders value HR pros who take a stand and fight for what is right – while considering what’s good for the business. Dumb rules are never good for business.

  5. Excellent post, Steve! I especially liked your part about policies. I’m not policy-happy at all. In fact, I’ve had a few experiences when the C-Suite believes that creating additional policies will simply eliminate poor behavior and issues in the workplace, which we all know is not the case. Sometimes I feel it’s because management doesn’t want to handle the few individuals who are the cause of the issues. Very frustrating and makes for occasional uncomfortable conversations at times. Thanks for your post, Steve…really enjoyed it.

  6. Steve, BRAVO! In our increasingly complex world, wishy-washy becomes more and more appealing…and it’s a detriment to people and organizations. One of my favorite quotes supports your passionate and spot on post: If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.

    The complex world means we need to work hard to define and stay clear on what’s important, and for executives and employees what’s the bigger goal we’re aiming for.

    Great post. Critical message.


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