Thursday, July 19, 2018

Why Do We Have to Make Things Hard?

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash
It seems HR, like many professions, has to make relatively straightforward concepts as difficult as possible to prove we're professionals.

In my mind, it's our job to make things as simple as possible. People are complicated enough without us HR pros making things worse.

I'm not talking about all of the compliance things that our lawmakers and regulators have worked hard to make as convoluted and nit-picky as possible, I'm talking about the people part. The true important piece we are responsible for.

What got me going today is the whole generations discussion. I really think this is one of those areas that got blown out of proportion to justify some HR professor's research budget and the income of many, many consultants. (Okay, that was a little sarcastic...)

Photo by Katia Rolon on Unsplash
I am not saying people who grew up in different times with different political, social, and economic realities don't think differently. They do. Just as people who are the same age in the same community think differently, depending upon their circumstances (race, religion, culture, socioeconomic status, etc.). Over time, most get pushed into the same workplace mold the rest of us got stuffed into. If there is one thing I would like to change about the workplace, that would be it. We do not need a worker cookie cutter, making sure we are all as nearly as possible like the person next to us. In fact, that is a very bad thing.

I am from the "sex, drugs, rock and roll!" generation. Can you even recognize a hippie in the stick-in-the-mud self-righteous people we see around us in the workplace talking about the lack of work ethic in our young people today? Seems I recall hearing those same words from my parents back in the day.

Does that mean I haven't done training on generational differences in the workplace? No, because I have. And I think there is some value in it, just as I think there is value in bringing all types of differences to the attention of our workers and managers, whether that difference, is sex, race, religion, disability, gender orientation, or any other difference between people. I hope there is a greater appreciation and understanding of one another as a result so we can work together more effectively.

But at the end of the day, we are all people. We all want respect. We all want to feel valued. We need to be listened to. We want to know what our bosses expect of us. We want to know how they'll evaluate our performance. We want to learn. We want to feel like the work we did for the last 8 hours was important. That's the bottom line. One size does not fit all, even with those of us who are most alike.

We're different. Good. There's nothing wrong with wanting something different than the person next to you. Celebrate those differences and the value those differences bring to the workplace in terms of creativity, innovation, and yes, fun. But let's not spend our time making those differences a cause for creating another us vs. them division. Let's get rid of the cookie cutters. After all, we're not gingerbread men.

Photo by Pietro De Grandi on Unsplash

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