Seat at the table.
There. I said it.
And it’s the last place you need to be to have real impact on your company. In fact, everyone sitting at the table needs to push back and get the hell out of the room. Each person at that table is fooling themselves. Missing real problems and solving problems that don’t really exist.
But Paul – that’s where the action is. That’s where the real value is generated. That’s where HR needs to be!
Nope. That’s where you go when you want to stop really making a difference. The “table” is where your vision overcomes your sight.
Too Far Away
A great quote hit me the other day. A quote that immediately resonated with me – and made me think of every Executive I’ve ever worked for and with. And frankly – it reminded me of myself at different stages of my career.
“Any natural system will appear to be in a state of equilibrium when viewed from a sufficiently removed perspective.”
Think about that. Chew on that. Internalize that point of view. The farther you are from the action – the more everything looks like it’s working just fine.
Think about astronauts in space. The earth looks pretty peaceful. Pretty much like things are humming along. Until they reenter and step off the shuttle. Then they’re hit with the news, the problems of everyday life. When they’re looking down from space – it’s all cool. When they’re in a traffic jam coming home from Cape Canaveral – it’s all a mess.
Executives See the “BIG” Picture
Being at the table means you’re looking at big picture things. Unfortunately, that picture can be pretty rosy if you have no idea of what’s really going on in the day-to-day world of getting things done.
We need more executives (and I count HR in that group) to move away from the mahogany table and pull up a chair in the lunchroom. We need more decision makers to be part of the process that their decisions affect.
If you think about that quote for a second you’ll know it to be true. But to compound the problem, no one will ever tell anyone looking down from on high what’s really going on. The Execs think they’re getting “feet on the street” points of view to augment their “big picture,” but they aren’t. They’re getting the photoshopped version of what’s happening.
Get In The Trenches
Want to see what the sales department really needs? Go make some calls. Grab a few clients and see if you can close the deal with the training and materials that were designed based on your “vision.”
Want to know why people are pushing social media as a marketing outlet? Go get a twitter account and experience how it feels to connect with someone – have impact in a bigger than email way.
Want to know why the performance review process sucks – go do one – the way the “books” in your company say to… (tell the truth – if you’re sufficiently high up in the organization you’ve not had a real review in years… that’s just a fact.)
I once heard a story about a life-time employee of a big US car manufacturing company who was promoted to President and CEO – and due to the fact that he’d worked at that company right out of college – HE HAD NEVER BEEN TO A DEALERSHIP TO BUY A CAR! Always had a company car – delivered to him.
This was a guy running a company that SOLD CARS – and never had bought one. Do you think his perspective on what was working and what wasn’t was an informed and accurate point of view?
Probably not too much.
Vision VS Sight
Vision is what you do at the big kids table. Sight is what you get when you do the job in the trenches. You need both to be successful.
Don’t think you have the “complete” picture – just because you have the “big” picture.
Get closer to where work gets done and get a better understanding of what it will really take to move the needle in your organization.
Paul Hebert is Senior Account Executive at WorkStride, Inc, and a writer, speaker and consultant. Paul focuses on helping connect best-in-class incentive technology platform to behaviors you need drive business results through employees, channel partners and consumers.
Using proven motivational theory, behavioral economics and social psychology he has driven extraordinary company performance for his clients. Paul is widely considered an expert on motivation, incentives, and engagement.
Other notable activities:
- Interviewed by the BBC on executive motivation and pay
- Quoted three times in USATODAY as an expert in incentives and channel travel programs
- Published in Loyalty360 magazine
- Writer and founding member of the editorial advisory board at the HRExaminer website
- Contributing author of “Enterprise Engagement: The Textbook: A Roadmap to Achieving Organizational Results Through People”
- Contributing author of 3 books on social media “The Age of Conversation #1, #2, and #3”