3 Hard Realities for HR Professionals—and How to Handle Them

As someone who works in behavior change for a living, I would like to help you take a fresh approach that you may have not previously considered. If you’re in the middle of an HR fiasco now, don’t run out for a glass of wine just yet. Here are three challenges (or hard realities) you could currently be facing or are likely to face as an HR professional—and how you can persevere.

You’ve Got a Team That Just Won’t Act Like One

The “right” team can drive even the nicest individuals within it completely nuts.

Forming a team by skillset alone has a likely chance of giving this result. But, forming a team by skillset and personality assessments, as many HR professionals are moving to now, can have an even more deleterious effects. Neither is an effective solution alone.

Personality assessments are a fun way to put people into category boxes and understand character strengths. Fun yes—but useful? Not if you want a really great outcome. A bunch of nodding heads do not an innovation make. Abandon safety and embrace the chaos.

Creating the right context where teams can thrive involves two basics: (1) a common goal and (2) the social constructs to keep everyone inside the bounds. You don’t see a football coach training the players to not walk off the field. They’re inspired to do so. My point is that a thriving context for teamwork cannot be dictated, it must be inspired.

You’re Dealing with a Solo “A-Player”— aka “A Brilliant Jerk”

Many businesses these days are writing and speaking about why not to hire brilliant jerks. You can take the easy path like them, but I would argue that achieving greatness from mediocre friendly folks is a far harder task (I speak from experience).

From my work in tech consulting (with Microsoft, VMware and many others) I can tell you that A players are your best asset if you manage them correctly. You can’t create a rule system around them. It is their DNA not to follow the status quo; and that includes your policies.

Instead, create a belief system around them that guides them to do the right thing. This age-old practice of guiding vision and mission was forged for A players, and is where great outcomes are achieved from even teams of difficult smart jerks.

The World of Work Has Changed, and The Best Practices Haven’t Caught Up

Part of your job now is not only to empathize with our 24/7 “always on” work culture, but to create the tools to keep your workforce surviving and thriving. Design for experience with your employees and give them the ideas that will help them excel. As One example is to rethink your company strategy. Transcend the money and performance speak, and create some meaningful touchpoints that get people excited.

Creating a purpose idea is a powerful performance driver, when done correctly. Whatever you do, the goal is to take a more holistic approach that accounts for the business focus as well as focusing on what your teams truly want and need.

Designing a series of mandates for people will only land you in the safety of ‘best practices land’. And the world is no longer built that way. After all, for any transformational leader, your job is to seek real solutions. The world is changing, and we must so as well.

Jessica Higgins Jessica Higgins developed and manages the only end-to-end culture design solutions firm in existence today. Her clients include Microsoft, Zappos, Roche, AT&T, Pfizer, L’Oreal, US Bank, Babson College, and many others. She and her team at Gapingvoid Culture Design Group deliberately assess, root cause, strategize, design and execute sustainable solutions at scale that connect people logically and emotionally to the organization’s most important outcomes.

Jessica is a public speaker, strategist and published author. Her mission is to help others. If you would like to speak to Jessica about how she can help, she can be contacted at 305-318-0960  JessicaH@gapingvoid.com  and @jessquired