Over the past week I have been going through some family issues which began with a medical emergency last Friday. Everyone we talked to from our family practitioner to the ER medical team believed that the signs pointed towards one thing. When the surgeons went in to operate on Saturday morning, they found an entirely different problem was manifested in the same environment. Upon reflection we do the same steps in the HR world we work in.
Every single day we are confronted with important HR issues and we automatically assume we have the answers. But what if we were wrong? Consider these scenarios:
Scenario #1- One of your department managers comes to your office and asks if you have a moment. They open the discussion by telling you they have a problem in the department with Johnny. Johnny just can’t seem to get with the program and we have to let him go. Do we know why Johnny can’t get with the program? The problem could be that Johnny has not been provided with the right training to do they job at the required KPI level. Or is the problem with the interaction between the manager and Johnny?
Scenario #2 – Mary reports to the HR department that she has been harassed by a fellow employee, is that really the case or is the problem that the way the fellow employee reacts around people may be contrary to the way that Mary was brought up. Consider if the fellow employee was of Italian descent. If you have been around Italians to any great degree you know they like to show signs of indicating you are part of their inner circle by hugging those they come into contact with. Is this harassment or a show of cultural tendencies?
Scenario #3 – Your talent management staff is in the process of interviewing for a high level position in your company, and comes across a candidate who on paper looks like the perfect candidate. The right skills, the right education, the right career progression. But your staff member says that through the entire interview the process the candidate never looked at the recruiter directly. The recruiter rejects the application and the candidate because of it. But what if the reason was that candidate was brought up in a culture where direct eye contact is considered to be a sign of aggressive behavior? If this is the case does this make them a bad candidate?
In each of our scenarios above we have looked at everyday scenarios within our global workplace which indicate one environment when they could mean an entirely different actuality. The same thing occurred in the hospital over this past weekend. Everyone based on the symptoms believed we had one problem when we had something entirely different. A separate condition which can and does simulate the same signs. Do your HR decisions recognize the possibility that the symptoms of your workplace problems are actually something else, that while related to your original conclusion mean something entirely else?