No – they didn’t

The thing about time is that it is a great concealer. As we move away from any incident our brains are rapidly working overtime to make us the rational and courageous heroes of that piece.

Let’s think about what that looks like in the workplace.

Do you remember that incredibly heated meeting you had, the one where you kept your calm, but that guy you don’t like was shouting? It didn’t happen that way, it really may not have http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24286258

Do you remember that time you had to decide between rival tenders – one from a company that you had gone out for drinks with (they just bought the drinks, no biggy) and one you hadn’t seen before? You probably didn’t choose as fairly as you think you did  http://www.livescience.com/23902-brains-unconscious-bias-decisions.html

Do you remember all that great work your new hire did this year (you just clicked at interview, great gut instinct) and all the examples of ‘old thinking’ you saw from others? Not as clear cut as you might think. http://www.spring.org.uk/2007/10/halo-effect-when-your-own-mind-is.php

Derren Brown
Derren Brown (Photo credit: lwpkommunikaci

You don’t think the way that think you do. Which means that you are always a little bit further away from reality than you think you are.

What does that mean? Shouldn’t you just stop contributing – after all you may be relying on false memories or ignoring a bias.

No. Don’t stop. Everyone else is too.

Continue with confidence, it’s the only way anyone ever makes a difference. Just continue with humility and an understanding that you are fallible. Ask others for their view of the world and give it credence.

Understanding that you aren’t as right as you thought you were will help you be right more often. That is as right as you may get.

I’ve failed people

Fail Road
Fail Road (Photo credit: fireflythegreat)

I’m failed people and I’m embarrassed.

Most of the time your brain is working double time (in the background) to build up a retrospective rationale for the things you have done -so that you can sleep easy at night, in the sound understanding that you did the best you could.

That is why your mistakes are always understandable but other people’s are indicative of a lack of competence. If you think you are a balanced reviewer of your own efforts – you aren’t.

So when I openly admit I’ve failed – it means I’ve been so rubbish, that even my built in mental defence mechanisms can’t muffle the clanging sound of my errors.

What did or didn’t I do?  

I’ve never hired anyone with a disability to work in HR (that I’m aware of). I’ve never worked with anyone with a disability (that I’m aware of) whilst in HR. I don’t think I’ve ever interviewed a candidate with a disability.

I’m not unique in this – a recent twitter chat confirmed lots of HR professionals have the same track record. That just makes us as bad as each other – it doesn’t make me any better.

I’m sure I’ve had multiple conversations with other people outside of HR about how they should have an inclusive hiring policy and the talent they might be missing out on. I just never stopped to think about what I was doing enough to realise my hypocrisy.

For the past half decade I have been senior enough to have influence on issues like this and to call out a lack of inclusion (with respect to disability – I’ve actually worked in quite diverse teams otherwise). It never crossed my mind.

I have no idea how many people I have hired directly in the past few years where I have failed to think as effectively as I should. It never crossed my mind. 

I’ve been a hypocrite. It isn’t a lack of openmindedness – it is a complete lack of thinking. Complete negligence on my part.

I’m not blaming fear, politics, the organisation I worked for – this is my repeated failing on a very personal level. I don’t think I’ve done anything illegal. I just haven’t done anything useful.

so… I’m making a change.

The next time that I recruit I will challenge my own approach and see if I can give someone a chance that they probably already should have had –  but they don’t due to failings like mine.

I’m also making the opening chapter of the upcoming book (Humane, Resourced) a showcase for some great observations by Anne Tynan on this issue http://annetynan.wordpress.com/ . When people read the book the first chapter now will be one provoking their thoughts on this issue.

In short – I’m going to influence where I can.

What change can you make?

You can wait for your professional body to create an initiative – or you could just act differently on your own. If enough people do that then we don’t need any other form of intervention.

There are good people whose talents we are missing out on. That is a business problem.

There are good people who are just missing out. That is an issue of right and wrong.

PS – I realise that people can get sensitive about the wording on topics like this. Please respect the intent rather than concentrating on ‘I wouldn’t have put it like that’…I reserve the right to be clumsy yet well intended.