It’s interesting to introduce myself as an HR person. I usually get the “oh, I better watch my language” or “boy, do I have questions for you.” The questions are usually centered around what policies and processes should be in place.
This tells me that we are starting to focus on the WHAT we should be doing rather than the WHY we should be doing it. If you focus on the WHAT, you start completing processes that suck up time and resources. However, if you focus on the WHY we do something, you may be able to accomplish that WITHOUT adding in processes and policies.
Wait. Did I hear that correctly? Was that an HR person saying you might not need to add process or policy? Yes. Hear me out…
Why Focus on WHY
Two things happen when you focus on the WHY before implementing a new process.
- If you are already accomplishing the WHY in another way, you may not need to create the process. We highlighted this in an earlier blog on job descriptions. The questions in the blog are really questions about WHY — and if those questions don’t create a WHY, then don’t implement the process.
- If you consider the WHY and determine you still need to implement a process, you can tailor the focus to achieve that specific WHY. If you don’t focus on the WHY when implementing a process, it will become busy-work, a waste of time and resources. Processes should support the WHY, not be the WHY.
An Example: Performance Reviews
One of the WHYs in performance reviews is that, as a result of conducting one, you and an employee have the same understanding of the employee’s performance, what they are doing well and where they need to improve.
If you know as the leader that you and your employees have the same understanding about performance through your ongoing conversations and meetings, then you may not need to implement a performance review process. I want to clarify that ‘having the same understanding’ doesn’t mean whether or not you think you have been clear with your employee — it does mean that if I asked your employee about their performance, they would give me the same answer you would.
If you decide that if you asked the employee they would give you a different answer, you probably want to implement some version of a performance review process. But you would do so knowing that the goal of the process would be that you and the employee have the same understanding of their performance.
What I Have Seen Happen If You Don’t
I have seen organizations go two different ways with performance reviews because they haven’t stepped back and asked the WHY.
- I have seen many organizations implement performance reviews processes without the continued focus on the WHY — and the process becomes an impersonal checklist where neither the employee nor the manager feel good about it. This is the most common and I am sure you have experienced it.
- The newest trend is for organizations to get rid of performance review processes because they have become impersonal checklists (see bullet above). Since no one feels good about it, they just get rid of it. Okay…..but if you do that without focusing on the WHY, you will end up disengaging your managers and employees, resulting in a decrease in performance.
This is why Erin and I started People Spark Consulting. We don’t you wasting time and money on processes that aren’t going to advance your business. In addition, if an HR process is important to advance your business, let’s make sure we are doing the right things to get you there.