So this is my second UK-takeover of the best twitter chat for HR professionals on the planet. #nzlead quite literally puts the ding in my Thursday twitter feed and a weekly dose of professional chat and contemplation over 140 character bursts.
It also chimes with a theme we’re working on here in the UK, #BraveHR as part of the ConnectingHR social HR practitioners community. So this theme then: #BraveHR. What is it? Why are we talking about it and what will it get us if we are that?
Some people have blogged about it ALREADY. Doug Shaw’s is a good read about Fear here and then there was Neil Morrison’s 10 Point Agenda for HR here and there’s been some twitter chat on #BraveHR – and there will be more.
I reflected on the title, on the likely discussion this would lead to and on my own experiences of being in organisational development/change and HR. Was I ever brave? If so when and what did it get me? Is there any point in being brave inside a corporate organisation or is it best to go “head down and just get through”? Is there a need to be braver when you run your own business?
Anyway, I may muse further on these but I also got to thinking about many of my past HR colleagues and connections and thought about the same questions. Have they been brave? If they were brave, why? What did it get them?
And I came up short. They weren’t brave at all. On the outside it looked that way anyway. They were predictable, safe, reliable, steadfast, bureaucratic, process-driven, a bit 2-dimensional, moderately successful but nonetheless successful, by the book, tidy. Brave? Nope. Not apparently.
There were times when they were involved in tribunal cases, mediation cases, restructure difficulties and Union negotiations. Were they brave then? Not by my definition. They were firm, safety conscious, tactical, followed a process, kept tight documentary trails and often, they “won”. I say won, because they got what the organisation was after – a resolution that didn’t cost them a lot in £’s and reputational damage. Still not brave though.
So in my definition #BraveHR is this – Standing out and being different – being you whilst still part of a collective.
A couple of examples to explain my point somewhat.
- Not accepting mediocrity in your colleagues, business and profession. Mediocrity is the scourge of human success. I would rather someone try to punch above their weight than be resplendent coasting along on cruise control “just” getting by. What a waste of human potential and skill. This needs calling out but not necessarily in a street-brawl kind of way. More in a stimulating, energising inspiring way. # BraveHR in this example here means sticking to the principle that people are inherently capable of great things. Instead of forcing that from people, HR creates conditions where that comes out naturally or with some stimulation – that takes bravery in my book. Brave because for some HR folks, that’s too ideological and takes too much effort.
And then there’s another frame.
- Holding your nerve and believing in yourself in creating a better way. Having confidence in yourself, your beliefs and your ways is not always easy. Have you ever:
- Been persuaded down a path you’re not convinced by via experienced heads around you?
- Deferred to organisational hierarchical power or strong views put across by lead figures?
- Accepted a norm or a situation because you don’t have all the answers?
- Had a controversial line that others are scared by, confused by, laugh at you for so you backed off or watered down your ideas?
ALL these things have happened to me. I can guarantee you one thing; when I compromised because of politics, hierarchy, self-doubt or just plain conciliatory thinking things didn’t work out. I am to blame for that because I adjusted my way and I wasn’t brave enough to stand firm and hold my nerve. Believe in myself.
When I changed my approach to this, I got some success, some things still didn’t work out but I felt better about it. Better because I was brave. I began to enjoy being controversial and different. I revelled in it somewhat. I broke more rules and I became a bit of a rebel.
So for me, #BraveHR isn’t about taking on the big jobs in global corporate or big ticket assignments necessarily. It isn’t about being a fighter, an angry provoker/verbal jouster, it isn’t about kicking ass and putting the Dictator in HRD. It is about YOU. Being true to you; standing firm about you and what you believe in as a human being and a professional who is there to make organisations and human beings “work”.
#BraveHR is in all of us. If we believe in ourselves.
My four questions are:-
Q1 – Why does HR need to be brave – are IT, Finance and Marketing brave?
Q2 – Taken we need more BraveHR – how and where do we focus that effort?
Q3 – If people in HR aren’t brave enough what do we do about that?
Q4 – What will be the signs that BraveHR has made a difference?