Here’s Why HR Should Be Really, Really Simple

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Have you ever wondered why HR Departments continue to make so many processes complex?

In reality, all of us wants things to be simple. But when you look at our organizations, they are filled with complexity. It seems like the more we try to make things simple, the more complex they get.

You know what? It’s you – it’s not everyone else. You are making things complex, and you’re doing this because it makes you feel good.

“Being busy is a status symbol”

From the Harvard Business Review blog network:

There are several deep psychological reasons why stopping activities is so hard to do in organizations. First, while people complain about being too busy, they also take a certain amount of satisfaction and pride in being needed at all hours of the day and night. In other words, being busy is a status symbol.

In fact a few years ago we asked senior managers in a research organization — all of whom were complaining about being too busy — to voluntarily give up one or two of their committee assignments. Nobody took the bait because being on numerous committees was a source of prestige.

Managers also hesitate to stop things because they don’t want to admit that they are doing low-value or unnecessary work. Particularly at a time of layoffs, high unemployment, and a focus on cost reduction, managers want to believe (and convince others) that what they are doing is absolutely critical and can’t possibly be stopped.

So while it’s somewhat easier to identify unnecessary activities that others are doing, it’s risky to volunteer that my own activities aren’t adding value. After all, if I stop doing them, then what would I do?”

We don’t reward the 20-hour guy

That’s the bad news. You have have deep psychological issues. Your spouse already knew that about you.

The good news is, you can stop it! How? Reward people for eliminating worthless work.

Right now we reward people who are working 70 hours per week and always busy, and we tell people, “Wow! Look at Tim — he’s a rock star; always here, always working!” Then someone in your group goes, “Yeah, but Tim is an idiot. I could do his job in 20 hours per week, if…

We don’t reward the 20 hour guy, we reward the guy working 70 hours, even if he doesn’t have to.

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Where did “work smarter, not harder” get lost?

Somewhere in our society, the “work smarter, not harder” adage got lost or turned into “work smarter, and longer.” The reality is most people don’t have the ability to work smarter so they just work longer and make everything they do look “really” important!

You just thought of someone in your organization when you read that, didn’t you!? We all have them – you can now officially call them “psychos” – since they do actually have a “deep psychological” reasons for doing what they’re doing. The Harvard Business Review said so!

I love simple. I love simple HR. I love simple recruiting. I hate HR and Talent Pros that make things complex, because I know they have “deep psychological” issues!

Please go make things simple today!

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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5 Comments on “Here’s Why HR Should Be Really, Really Simple

  1. Fantastic piece Tim. I totally agree both with the problem of having team members focus on unimportant tasks can be a detriment to both the organization and the team. I beleive it’s the rolle of leaders to block and tackle for their team. Part of this requires them to help their team focus on items that really matter and discard the things that don’t.

    At Kira Talent (www.kiratalent.com) we’ve designed a tool that helps people eliminate useless waste in the recruitment process. Video interview screening can reduce up 85% of your time spent on in-person interviews as well as the hassle of scheduling phone interviews.

    Here’s a salut to the 20-hour guy!

  2. I am an HR person and I sure like simplicity, too. However, the Board of Directors like to throw in Internal Audit and/or Compliance to make things worse.

  3. I like simple HR too, thats why I choose to work for smaller firms, that have flat business models and entrprenuerial in nature.

  4. Many thanks Tim for your contribution! On the other hand life isn’t so simple as it may seem, at least due to the fact lots of people make things needlesly complex. In recent years, people do a lot of things simpler and simpler (incl. communication) and the question is whether this is really the right way…

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