Headline #SHRM13 – Hillary Says Don’t Pay Attention

Paul Hebert HR, Organizational Development, Paul Hebert, SHRM

Well… not really. What Ms. Clinton said – I surmised from the twitter stream because my flight was delayed and I couldn’t make it to her chat – was “follow the trend lines not the headlines.”  It must have resonated with a few folks because I saw it retweeted quite a bit.  That is a very, very important statement.

However, this was not first time I had heard that sentence.

In fact – I heard it from her husband a while back when talking about the Clinton Global Initiative (or CGI).  The context of President Clinton’s statement was that now that he wasn’t President he could “afford to pay attention to the trend lines and not worry about the headlines.”

I thought that was one of the best summaries of what is killing us across the board in business – and in HR.

We Can’t Wait

Unfortunately for us and our own politicians – including our Presidents – we are continually focused on the headlines.  Our jobs depend on managing the “now” not working on the “then.”  We can’t wait for success.  Voters and bosses want you to focus on results tomorrow – not results in 5 years.

How many of you work on strategies and plans with a 5-year horizon?  How many of your daily activities are focused on a two-week, two-month, two quarter horizons?  I’m guessing the majority of your tasks are shorter term issues – focused on the headlines from the last staff meeting and not the major trends that will eventually crop up as emergencies in 5 years.

Social Media Fuels “Today-ism”

As I thought about President Clinton’s statement (and now Ms. Clinton’s) I couldn’t help but feel that social media – especially twitter – is fueling this need to address what we think is important and critical because it is popular in our feed today.  It is difficult to see 10, 20, 30 tweets go by on recruiting, retention, engagement, etc. – and not feel like you HAVE to do something with them.  It must be important, why else would there be so much on social media about it?

But if you think about it, working on solving problems that are in the headlines is all about solving problems in the past.  Anything that is in a headline today – is yesterday’s news.

Your real focus should be those things that will affect your company in the future.

Today AND Tomorrow

I know you can’t focus 100% of your time on the trend lines – no one can.  But I recommend you break your to-do list into two columns…

Column 1 = Headline Work

Column 2 = Trend Line Work

Today work and tomorrow work.

We ALL have to focus some of our work on the trend lines if we ever expect

Why do we have to wait until we don’t HAVE to worry about headlines to focus on trend lines?  Why can’t we just manage the balance better?