A Lesson From SHRM Atlanta: Finding the Courage to Stop Being Wrong

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One thing I love about being at SHRM12 in Atlanta is that I get to hang out with great HR Pros from all over the world!

And what happens when you get a bunch of HR people together? You talk shop! And, tell a bunch of war stories. And, a few drinks are probably consumed. We’re like elementary school teachers at happy hour on a Friday afternoon!

I was with some HR Pros last night and one of them shared a standard HR axiom about what we do as HR Pros in the guise of maintaining consistency: if we are wrong in the beginning, then just keep being wrong! It sounds idiotic doesn’t it? But you see it every single day in HR.

Here’s where I was wrong

At one point someone made a decision — for who knows what reason — and no matter what the reason, a precedent was set and through hell and high water we will keep making that same decision! We are HR!

I’m this person. Well, I’m trying not to be. You see in my organization, we do the same stuff. If my recruiters exceed their goals we have various rewards that they get, and one of those is the ability to have a flex day throughout their week where they can work from home or come in late, leave early, etc.

It’s up to them. In our environment, that reward is worth it’s weight in gold! But – there’s always a “But” – when a holiday week happens, where the person is already going to be off for a day, we have said no flex day that week. Seemed like a reasonable plan. But was it?

Don’t get caught up in group think

A reward is set up to be a reward and shouldn’t matter if the person has vacation, has a holiday, etc. I had to ask myself: why do this then take it away just because of a holiday? I trust my people, especially those working their butts off, to exceed their goals, so why take it away?

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I was wrong. So, I decided to change – do the right thing – and do you know what the first reaction was? Yep,  it was “Wait, that’s now how we did it before.” It’s a very normal reaction we have as leaders because we want to deliver consistency to our teams, and I agree with that concept for sustained engagement, but there’s one thing that should override this – when I’m wrong!

So, do you have the courage to stop being wrong? Most of your peers don’t – they get caught up in group think, they get caught up thinking they are being “consistent,” and that is good – but being consistent about doing something wrong is just being consistently wrong!

You have a choice – keep being wrong or start being right! What will you do?

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.


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