Is Your Advice Hypocritical?

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This blog was originally posted by Justin Harris on the Peformance I Create blog. Every other Wednesday, Blogging4Jobs will feature a guest post from the up-and-coming multi-contributor blog, Performance I Create. 

As I speak with colleagues and look at different organizations in regards to effectiveness and buy-in, I see a consistent theme:  managers talk too much. There’s always an opinion, and not enough implementation. Too much yapping and not enough listening. So I got to thinking about how managers can’t be effective and credible with their employees and get the best out of them if they themselves aren’t exemplifying the principles and ideals and expectations that they are demanding.

But we as HR know this, and we as HR counsel and advise to that respect all of the time. And since I’m always trying to think and act from a “Cause and Effect” mindset, I said to myself, “Self!” Then I said, “Huh?” “Why are our carefully drafted and planned trainings, perfectly compliant handbooks and employee friendly Work-Life Balance and Efficiency speeches not hitting home with the leaders that we are advising? What’s wrong with them?!?! This stuff is good!”

It hit me. If they’re not listening, we have to look at where and who the message is coming from. If you heard a preacher saying “Don’t sin!”, then saw them on the corner fighting, cussin’ and stealing, you’d be less likely to follow his advice. As Human Resources, we can’t afford to think that people should just be listening to us because of who we think we are, we have to practice in our own shop what we are preaching in their’s.

If the HR department is in turmoil, how can we help get others out of it? If we know so much about what makes employees happy, why are so many HR professionals and practitioners unhappy? If we suggest to managers that they should encourage time off amongst their employees to get refreshed, why are we so burnt out? It doesn’t add up, we loose credibility and we sound down right HypocRitical.

HR has to look in the mirror. We have to get our own houses in order before we can help everyone else clean their’s. When we implement rewards systems in our own offices, then we can practically teach others how to build, tweak and implement theirs. When we can provide timely and relevant feedback to our own staff, we can then guide others through their engagement processes. It’s time for HR to stop expecting people to just do based on what we read in certification study guides. We can’t be practitioners without operating in the practical. Merriam-Webster says that Practical is:

of, relating to, or manifested in practice or action : not theoretical or ideal

They said it, not me. So the next time we’re talking to management about how things should be and how they should be doing XY & Z and we’re getting that blank, empty stare…that “Please shut up” look from across the table, it’s not because they don’t hear us, it may be because they’ve seen us.

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  1. Hi Chris,

    It seems that in western society it’s the person who talks the most and loudest who esablishes dominance and can often influence the way forward. People often say they are good listeners and value people who don’t talk too much but this isn’t always reflected by their behaviour. Take me for instance, I started writing a comment before I even finished reading your blog…

    Ok now I have re-read it and there are two key points in there that stand out for me. One is around assuming everyone has to listen because of our position. This is a point that I have written about before in comparing HR with sales – in sales no one has to listen and there is no prize for second place. The second point is the old “doctor’s kids are always sick” piece where HR are always over-worked. This is so common and is the same as if the CFO kept raising headcount each year and…oh never mind, let’s be hypocrites! 🙂


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