We’re only a few weeks into the new year and most of us have been through the process of reviewing last year’s work, checking the boxes of things completed, pulling forward or hiding those that were left unaccomplished and setting your goals for 2015. If you’re like me, you try to keep your list of goals short. I try to keep mine to three big things. In my mind, everything else is simply window dressing, and I’ll check them off if I have time and energy. I am convinced one of the biggest obstacles to achieving goals is having too many. It’s tough to focus if you’re jumping all over the place.
Another big speed bump to goal attainment is typically some person—or a group of people. A department, a VP of NO, or a buyer or customer.
For HR, I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that managers are typically the single biggest impediment to achieving people objectives in a company. They can actively block new initiatives or simply ignore them. They can use “old school” tactics that push employees further into the arms of waiting recruiters or force their teams to work-to-rule, reducing innovation and performance. Managers are the “transmissions” of corporate messages and objectives. They take the direction (power) from the C-suite (the engine) and translate it to the rank and file (the wheels.) Without them, it is impossible to get anything done.
But HR has no real authority over the management ranks right? Managers across the company report through different structures, different divisions, groups and departments. Your only option is to communicate the information, beg, plead and hope.
Own The Obstacle
I was on a radio show the other night talking about employee engagement, and one of the hosts said that when it came to recognition and engagement, “Managers just won’t do it. What do you do when they won’t do what you know is the right thing to do?”
What do you do?
You find a way.
You are a professional. Either you find a way to use that obstacle or you remove it.
Every situation is different, so specifics aren’t going to be found in this post. But… as a top-level professional, you don’t have the option to simply point to another employee and suggest that your lack of performance is the result of their lack of engagement. As an HR professional, you need to enlist your management—and I use the term “your” on purpose. While we may look at the people that report to us as our “team”—the reality is that everyone at your level (horizontally across your department) is YOUR team. Those are the people you need to achieve their goals.
And know this: they need you in order to accomplish their goals, as well. They are not your obstacles as much as they are your teammates. Your job—as a professional—is to enlist their help, not blame them for your failure.
You have two choices for achieving your goals as you move further into 2015—you can use the people on your team to achieve your goals, or you can remove them.
You don’t always need to work with your team members. Sometimes it makes sense to simply work around them. That is an option. Don’t engage with those that simply don’t want to be part of the solution. Don’t blame them—remove them.
Success comes to those who remove obstacles to success… or find a way to use them.
What’s your plan in 2015?
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”