Yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery and today is present

You read that real quick didn’t you? But go back and really consider the implications of the words themselves to the human resource professional in the daily exercise of their responsibilities.

Yesterday is history

There is no organization that is free from having made really bad human resource decisions. We have all fed into the corporate mantra, even though we may believe differently. We have been fed the Kool-Aide that the corporate organization is always right. We all are guilty of telling an employee, asking us a question –“That is not my job” resulting in the alienation of the very talent we need to maintain the organization. We have all enforced decisions which in the basis of our moral beliefs we felt were wrong. We failed to send a candidate on for further consideration because the hiring manager said he/she would not hire someone like that. The EEOC press releases are filled with very stupid actions on the part of management. We can’t go back and change them. These actions are now part of organizational history forever enshrined in the persona of our organizations. The good news is that these actions are in the past.

Tomorrow is a mystery

Flip the coin over. We are not psychics that enable us to predict the future. As human resource professionals we have an uncertain view of the road ahead of us. We are certain that the nature of our jobs will change. Demands on our time will increase whether from regulatory requirements or the implication of change within the organization. Some are suggesting that we return to the time when we were called Personnel. I would suggest that we covered that in yesterday is history, we can’t reasonably return to the past and expected to be productive in the new environment called the global workplace. The role we increasingly play as the gatekeeper of talent management is not very well served by going back to the future. Our organization’s future will not be well served by returning to an era when we were just paper pushers. We moved to that era following the change away from the Quaker business model to the human capital as numbers mentality. It did not work when we changed to a knowledge economy.As result it is critical that we prepare the organizations for that uncertain future. The way we do that is to delve into the present to resolve issues that in the past have been a detriment to the organization.

Today is present

Taiichi Ohno of the Toyota Motor Corporation is reported to have said “the past is the past and what is important is the current condition and what we will do next to go beyond where we are today.” As the human resource professional within the organization, it is critical that we become the change leader for the organization. We can’t afford to rely on the strategic response that this not how we do things here. We can’t rely on the strategic response that we have done that and it did not work. Not only HR but the entire organization must begin to look at how we can do thing better, faster and cheaper. We need to look at our long term objectives from the rose colored glasses which tell us that we need to do things better (less errors), faster (now instead of procrastinating) and cheaper (less cost outlay). We need to look at our current situations and seek to bring about change to improve the organization in the future. We need to begin to see the problems and feel how they impact on the organization. Once we have reached this plateau we must lead the change within the organization to correct these problems. The human resource professional is the only one with all the keys to meet these challenges.

Consider a recent action by the EEOC in which a financial institution agreed to pay $95,000 and provide injunctive relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC had charged that the bank failed to provide a reasonable accommodation for a former employee’s disability and discharged her because of her age. Yesterday is past. The bank made the mistakes.The future is a mystery due to the unclear picture whether management understood that change was needed. The present is here because the organization must pay the fine and provide relief to the employee. It is also inherent that the organization learn from the past and take corrective action so the problem does not reoccur.

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