Ignite HR 7: Why You Should Trash Your Policy Manual

Employment lawyer Heather Bussing‘s Ignite HR presentation at last November’s HR Reinvention conference in Omaha was titled Trash Your Policy Manual, and it was as frank as you might expect a presentation with that kind of title to be.

Heather pulled no punches, and she jumped into it without hardly allowing for a deep breath:

What if you trashed your social media policy and just for rid of it? What if you focused on making a really great place to work for your employees instead of covering your ass?”

Focusing on good work instead of policies

Yes, if you want a great example of how the Ignite HR format makes speakers (and the audience) have to be ready to jump deep into a topic quickly and immediately, this is it.

Heather’s presentation pointed out the management folly (and unintended consequences) of short-sighted workplace rules and policies that don’t carefully consider the impact they might have on real, live actual employees. And her basic counsel is something executive management everywhere should engrave on their brain:

What you want to do is focus on doing good work, and get people focused on their work rather than their policies.”

Sounds simple and obvious, no? Well, no — and Heather points out why this is and how to deal with workplace policies that send the wrong message and do the wrong things to your workforce.

What you might have missed

This is a great presentation if you worry about policy drift and that kind of stuff, and it is the last of  seven (7) Ignite HR presentations from the HR Reinvention conference in Omaha last November that we have been featuring here at TLNT over the past week. Each one was in some way related to the theme of “putting the human back in human resources,” and the earlier ones, in case you missed them, were:

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I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: what makes the Ignite HR format work so well is that it is tightly constructed so that speakers get only five (5) minutes, 20 slides and exactly 15 seconds per slide, maximum, to give their spiel. Yes, that may sound like a strange way to present at a conference, but for me, it is the tight format that makes the presentations sing because the presenters have to get to the point pretty quickly.

Ignite HR : a great change of pace

Others (like my friend and HR Tech conference guru Bill Kutik) have wondered how you could put on an entire conference of Ignite HR presentations, and of course, you couldn’t. The seven (7)  presentations I saw this past year in Omaha took up about an hour (including time for people to set up/break down, and get on and off the stage), and that seemed about right. A little more or a little less would have worked well too, but the Ignite HR format is not something to build an entire conference around.

Here’s what Ignite HR is  — it’s a great change of pace. As someone who attends lots of events and hears lots of speakers in the course of a year, I really appreciate the Haiku-like simplicity of the format.

So, check out this last Ignite HR presentation by Heather Bussing because it is a good one — especially for those who love workplace policies and policy manuals. And, let me know what you think, either about her presentation or the HR Ignite format, in the comments below.

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.


1 Comment on “Ignite HR 7: Why You Should Trash Your Policy Manual

  1. If you want to go deeper into this topic, there is a great book by my colleague Jay Shepherd, called Firing At Will. It’s funny, smart, and full of helpful legal and practical advice focused on people and work, instead of administrivia.

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