How often do you take time to question the reasonableness, or idiocy, of what’s being asked of you and your team? When’s the last time you made a substantially complete inventory of all the things your HR team does? Do you think all of it serves a relevant purpose? I'm willing to bet a lot of it doesn't. But the only way to know for sure is to ask, “why?”
- Why on earth do we do this?
- Why are you asking me for this?
- Why is this a priority?
- Why does this matter to our people?
- Why isn’t there someone else who can do this?
- Why does this have to be done so often?
- Why oh Why oh Why?
Unless you have access to unlimited resources, part of providing an exceptional experience for your employees is making sure your team is focused on the right things - things that are actually relevant. Asking ‘why’ doesn’t mean you’re being obstinate, or insubordinate, or even difficult. If done effectively, it means you’re charting your course, allocating your precious time, and ultimately bringing more value to your constituents.
Here’s a hint: If the answer to any of those questions is “because we’ve always done it that way,” you have a strong candidate for the trash can.
I once sat down with my HR ops team and asked them to go through a list of all the reports they give our Finance/Accounting department. Many of these reports weren’t easy to generate, consumed a great deal of time, and were an all-around disruption to other important activities. After asking “why” a lot, we determined that a number of those reports weren’t even being looked at by the Accounting/Finance department, others could be consolidated into fewer reports, and several could easily be generated by the Finance/Accounting department themselves. What a waste! Now do this with all aspects of your HR practice and see what happens…it’s like cleaning out the closet or trunk of your car. You’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.
We’re there to serve, but we have at least some say in who/what/how/when/why we serve. You deserve to know, to question, to understand. Stop being a “yes (wo)man,” never be a “no (wo)man,” and become a “why? (wo)man.”
Simply-Engineering Human Resources & Work
Cover image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/intherough/