Thursday, June 9, 2011

When Leaders Push Too Far

I'll admit it.  Occasionally I get a bit too fired up for my own good.  A topic comes up that I'm passionate about and I get ahead of myself.  In my enthusiasm to express how important the issue is (to me), I might overlook the other people involved. Passion is good...but blowing past your colleagues is not.

Department Leader or Organizational Leader
One of the dilemmas we face as HR leaders is that our view of "work" is not just the cost center we are assigned .  In many ways the organization is our department.  Think about it, how many of you come to work and only think about HR?  If you do, ahem, it's time for a change.  

Since we're tasked with providing organizational leadership, what should the smooth HR practitioner do when areas beyond their direct span of control are a mess and the leadership over those areas is woefully slow to respond?

Hello rock and a hard place.

Silos?  What Silos?
Diving in to help is what we in HR do, right?  We all have that cape hanging on the back of our office doors that we can quickly put on as we fly off to save the day.  The problem is, our colleagues may not necessarily want us to come in and solve  their problems.  Heck, they may not even realize they have a problem.  It's our job to be calm, professional, and passionate about the reality of the situation when we explain:

1. What is really going on
2. What the specific impact is on the organization
3. What the options are to move forward

Skipping these three steps and becoming a Super Hero Problem-Solver will more than likely alienate your colleague, not bring you closer.  Remember, you are the internal consultant and should treat that leader as a client, not someone who has missed the boat.

How About You
Do you fall into the trap of "knowing just what needs to be done" and you aren't shy about letting everyone know?  I hate it when I act that way. Maybe we should only be Super Heroes after hours?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pics courtesy of Integral Options and Cafe Press


  1. With 25 years in the profession I have seen this several times. It's great to be the Hero and help solve the problems of the world. We all love that. But when the "client" is not receptive it makes it harder. Since you can only push so much, what can you do. A couple of things, never give up. Put all your persuasive talents on and try to get them to see the light. Always be willing to look at your solution and see if their reason for not doing it may make since....we're not always right even though we think we may be. Try to influence others that may be affected by the may have more success with more people promoting the solution. And finally, if it is a critical situation that the company leadership needs changed, you may have to go over the colleagues head, explain your solution and what you have tired to do to and get the power from the top. Sometimes our influencing powers just doesn't work but if it is critical to the organization, then we must have the courage to sacrifice the colleague's feelings to do what is right. And if your solution was right, the colleague will probably forgive you for going over his head because you have helped solved the problem.

  2. Well said Ed. It is unfortunate when we have to push past our colleagues, but sometimes it is absolutely necessary. The key to it all is the relationship we have with them before issues come up. That way we have something to draw upon when problems arise...and hopefully...something that can help maintain the relationship once the issue is resolved.

  3. So well said and oh so true. Making me think my friend...