Our local NAAAHR chapter recently hosted a terrific panel discussion about managing during these challenging economic times. NAAAHR is a great organization – if you have a chapter near you, check it out. The panelists were from a variety of industries and held both operations and HR positions within their companies.
During the panel discussion, the topic turned to HR and what professionals can do to be more effective. I must admit I didn’t hear a lot of new information. The conversation centered around technology, business acumen, bringing value, and taking control of your professional development.
But, one person did make a comment that stuck with me. She said human resources policies and procedures were jokingly referred to as “The Book of No”. As in, here are all the things you can’t do within the organization.
The comment made me realize this could be a real defining moment for not only human resources pros but managers in general. Can we talk about things in terms of what people “can” do versus what people “can’t” do? I mean, it’s easy to talk about what you can’t do. But, it takes creativity to talk about what you can do. You really have to think about all of the possibilities. You have to consider ‘out of the box’ thought processes.
And…if we start talking in terms of what people can do, then shouldn’t our written organizational policies and procedures reflect the same? I’ve heard many people say they subscribe to the “explain what you can do” philosophy but when you read their SOP manuals and employee handbooks, it’s one long “let me tell you what you can’t do.”
Policies, procedures, handbooks, etc. should be considered marketing documents. Most of the time, there’s nothing confidential or proprietary in them. They’re simply the rules of the road…and having rules is perfectly normal. But, write them from a “can do” standpoint. Send the message that working for your organization is about lifting employees up and supporting their actions . . . not holding them back.