You can’t fix a broken situation by hiring better talent. There, I said it—and it feels almost blasphemous. But we’ve all seen great hires step into a dysfunctional environment and gradually become part of the existing (dis)order. As much as we hope to change organizations by hiring great people, the fact remains that existing conditions just carry too much weight.
Photo credit: Bksimonb, Wikimedia Commons
This is not a new phenomenon. One of the greatest “strengths” of the Han Chinese of Medieval China was their ability to absorb and assimilate conquerors. Historians of the era agree:
“The conquerors in some cases took over so much [of the local culture] that they soon disappeared as foreigners and came to be regarded as Chinese.”
Unfortunately, while the power of the status quo may protect existing systems and cultures from being taken over, it can also prevent new ideas and new approaches from taking root—even when they’re actively sought!
Why Hiring Can’t Fix What’s Broken
Mark Weber, PhD (Associate Professor, Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship & Technology Centre, University of Waterloo), recently shared some social psychology insights at a local conference. Contrary to expectations (and the title of the session!), his presentation was far from dry. In fact, it was highly informative, entertaining and relevant. As he shared examples illustrating the impact of situation and circumstance on individual behavior, one thing became increasingly clear: we can’t solve organizational problems through improved selection.
No matter how talented incoming hires may be, if they land in a dysfunctional or disabling environment, they will eventually become part of the problem or leave. To look at it another way, even a superbly trained Olympic swimmer can’t win when swimming in a pool of molasses!
First, Change the Workplace
One of the fundamental principles of modern quality improvement is captured in the words of D. M. Berwick:
“Every system is perfectly designed to achieve exactly the results that it achieves.”
To change results, it’s first necessary to change the system. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that talent isn’t important. Having the right people on board is critical to the success of any organization. But first you have to create the environment that will enable those people to deliver their best and exemplify the behaviors you seek.
While attitude and personality make a great difference in people’s approach to life, research demonstrates that the situations people encounter on a daily basis are much greater predictors of behavior. This is true because people’s need to conform to the expectations of a group and the demands of a particular environment usually override individual preference. Fitting in is a powerful motivator.
To fix a broken workplace situation, first create an environment and culture that enables the desired behaviors, put the systems in place to support those behaviors, and then hire the best talent you can find to deliver exceptional results.
What are you doing to create an enabling environment in your workplace? NetSuite TribeHR can help. Try it free today!
 Wolfram Eberhard, Conquerors and Rulers Social Forces in Medieval China.
 Kelley, H. H. & Stahelski, A. J. (1970), Social interaction basis of cooperators’ and competitors’ beliefs about others. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 16(1), 66-91.
Cooperation by Marina del Castell, Flickr
Onboarding is a critical component in the successful integration of new hires and can have a great impact on employee satisfaction and retention. For that reason, we prioritize it at TribeHR and have developed a continuous improvement approach to onboarding that is everyone’s responsibility. In a previous blog post I referenced this process as follows:
Since we also ask new hires to identify something they can improve in the on-boarding process within the first 30 days (and then improve it), everyone is collectively invested in enhancing the on-boarding experience for new hires. This
If you believe, as we do, that one-on-one meetings are still the best way to build strong working relationships with everyone on your team, you’ll want to make them a priority. Of course, when you’re distracted or struggling to shift focus from other responsibilities, it can be a challenge to get the conversation started.
Photo by Sonny Abesamis, Flickr
Socates said "“My way toward the truth is to ask the right questions.” Confuscious clearly believed in the power of good questions too, having written: “The man who asks a question is a fool
We’re a technology company. We create software. And the heart of our software is people: the people who develop it, sell it, support it and use it.
Our objective is not to replace people with technology or to build technology barriers between people—the opposite in fact. Our goal is to enhance workplace relationships by making work easier, more connected and more enjoyable for everyone. Developing and maintaining those workplace relationships is one of our top priorities.
Photo by ashraful kadir,
To make sure it happens, we’ve developed the following best practices for one-on-one meetings.
More than anything else, great customer service is about respect: respect for the customer as an individual, respect for the customer’s time and respect for the customer’s point of view—even when it seems off base.
It’s Not About You
Variations of the statement: “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” have been attributed to Theodore Roosevelt and John C. Maxwell, among others. This phrase has been used time and again to illustrate a fundamental principle in leadership, sales, and customer service. The same
The fundamentals of the employee-employer relationship have changed over the past few decades. Employers no longer even pretend to offer job security and, in return, employee loyalty to a particular company is rare. Yet employees still want to know where they stand and what their long term prospects are within the organizations they work for. And employers still want to reduce employee churn and find ways to retain great employees as long as possible. The question is: How can we do that in today’s competitive, volatile, shifting world?
The Alliance: managing talent in the networked age
Mobile Worker by Michael Coghlan, Flickr
As technology has taken hold in our workplaces and more jobs consist of knowledge work that can be done anywhere with an internet connection, reducing the physical plant requirements of business has been a logical progression. If an employee can effectively and productively work from home, why add unnecessary real estate costs to the company’s overhead—especially since control and flexibility increase workers’ job satisfaction and eliminating the commute reduces their stress.
Not at Work: Not Absent
In spite of occasional setbacks (like Marissa Mayers’ infamous memo), the entrenchment
Many people are hired, promoted, or elected into leadership positions without receiving any formal training or education on how to run an effective meeting. But the higher you go in an organization the more meetings you are responsible for!
Photo by Anneaux Memoire, Wikimedia Commons, GNU Free Documentation License
There are a lot of good reasons for meetings, including providing an opportunity to:
Share ideas, information and preferences.
Participate in the decision-making process and provide input into decisions.
Be identified as able and willing to “champion” initiatives once decisions are made.
Come together as part of a
Whether you call it HRM, HCM or simply the people side of work, Human Resources is a challenge in the best of times. Overlay its inherent complexity with a year-over-year growth rate of 30-50% or more and suddenly you’re juggling madly—with knives!
Balboa Park Botanical Building, by Herb Neufeld, Wikimedia Commmons
Whether rapid growth is happening in a small start-up that suddenly gains traction, or in a more established company that’s growing due to acquisition and globalization, there are some common challenges each will face as a result of unbridled success.
HR Challenges in
Not a Mistake
The problem with the word mistake is that it comes packaged with a weight of condemnation and is usually accompanied by shame, disappointment and sometimes even the fear that someone may stop liking us. But we need our mistakes. Without them we can’t learn or grow or change. If, instead, we think about mistakes as feedback in a loop of continuous experimentation and improvement, we can appreciate them as positive input into our development rather than weapons of self-destruction.
Learning from Failure
There is a lot of talk lately about learning from