Broken Arms and HR.

I got the chance to speak to Owen Ferguson of Good Practice today. I liked Owen the first time that I met him and after that point confirmation bias took over and I couldn’t help but like him.

We were chatting about a host of stuff today including the research they do at Good Practice when Owen said something I loved, which I will badly paraphrase below.

Too often HR and L&D are like a doctor rushing, uncalled, to the side of a person with a broken arm. They appear and ask the person whether they would consider changing their diet to lower their cholesterol. Whilst that isn’t a bad suggestion in itself, it is hardly the priority for someone with a broken arm. The patient again gestures towards the arm – the doctor walks off in a huff disappointed that their advice on how to lower blood pressure wasn’t followed.

The point is that the advice is sound, but if you don’t match the priorities of the people you are serving and don’t support or intervene at the right time then you won’t make progress.

There is an element of earning trust and working alongside the people you are supporting with any job and pushing a solitary agenda and then asking why people aren’t paying attention is of no benefit to you or the organisation. If you want a business to share or explore different priorities then you might need to help some people with their priorities first.

So next time you are working out how to get your next HR initiative done make sure you aren’t ignoring the broken arm that someone is complaining about.

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