I’ve recently had a number of conversations with HR colleagues about the ability (or inability) to drive change within either our organizations or within the greater HR community/profession. These conversations (many of them at SHRM13) came about because there are a number of future-focused and forward-thinking HR professionals who strive valiantly to affect change, make things happen and re-invent HR. Many have a great desire to demonstrate the value of effective HR in order to contribute to the growth and success of their organizations.
And although we in human resources are well-known for gazing at our navels and lamenting our station-in-life (“woe is me!”), I also hear my friends who work in IT, Marketing, Finance and non-profit management sing the same song of lamentations.
A small dose of comfort I guess: we are not alone.
The people in any field who care – really care – about change and innovation want success both as individual contributors and as representatives of their profession/department and their companies. They’re most definitely not clock-in/clock-out 9-to-5 types and they deeply believe that an individual can lead and influence change. They work to do just that. And many succeed…on their own…up to a point.
But they can’t do it alone.
Change – REAL change – requires collaboration. And while there needs to be someone with the zest and the vigor and the IDEAS to lead the charge and rally the troops for real, substantive, and sustainable change – the force of one individual’s personality or their ability to generate ideas is not enough.
Rather, these change agents must be able to not only embrace new strategies and communicate them effectively, but must also find new and better ways to coordinate activities, collaborate with others and work together toward their desired outcomes. More important than tools, systems and processes is the building of trusted relationship – “I trust you and you trust me” – and then using those foundational relationships to work together toward an end goal.
We find ourselves stuck, however, when we work in isolation; crafting and refining our plans without input from others until we have what we consider to be the “finished product.” We then spring this new idea/concept/change on our bosses, colleagues and unsuspecting employees and wonder why we fail. We talk about HR getting no respect. We wonder why we can’t set in motion the innovation which we so greatly crave.
I’m a firm believer that one person, when equipped with the drive, desire and ability to influence others, can lead a shift in momentum and create a climate for innovation and transformation. Whether one is a leader due to title/role or an informal leader this can be accomplished.
Making it stick, however, and getting others to truly accept and sustain the change/innovation, requires more than one person at the front of the movement rallying the troops to follow along.
We often think of 007 as the determined rogue agent; remaining loyal while simultaneously defying orders and breaking rules while still getting the job done through sheer determination, bravery and actions. But even James Bond didn’t work alone. While he often rebuked the offers of assistance from the field agent sent from the MI6 Home Office to help him, he ultimately realized the value of having a partner in the field. The co-worker back at HQ. The partner from the agency of another government.
Can we, in human resources, do the same? Can we join together to drive real change and innovation for our profession? And can we, as HR leaders or contributors in our organizations, join together with our internal partners to do the same?
Or will we insist on remaining solitary agents?