2018 HR Advice:  Let The Force Be With You; Control Your Destiny.

Dawn Burke Change, Dawn Burke

First and foremost — I’m not going to give away any Star Wars: The Last Jedi spoilers.  Exhale.  

If you’ve read any non-spoiler piece about TLJ, you know significant themes of the movie include examining the past, distinguishing nostalgia from fact, and exploring when the past needs to be just that… the past.  Human conundrums, indeed. And to make things more interesting, these concepts, although explored in many star wars films, are really front and center in TLJ.  So much so, TLJ breaks away significantly from the typical Star Wars formula.

If you want to see how Star Wars answers these questions — you gotta see the movie.  

But fanboys have questioned, sometimes angrily, why would TLJ even contemplate breaking from the beloved and successful Star Wars formula? One we are invested in. One we are secure in. One we feel safe with. One we love, flaws and all?!  I’ll tell you why.  

Because to have legs in the future, you must break ties with the past.  Because, fanboys, GenX and Millennials, the future of Star Wars is not for you.  It is for the next generation.

And this too is true for 2018 HR departments. This too is true for many corporate environments. Regarding the future success of your organization, now is the time to examine the past, distinguish nostalgia from fact, and know when the past needs to be left in the past.  

For example, let’s take McDonald’s.  Where has Ronald McDonald gone?  He’s all but vanished into thin air.  Ronald McDonald, who was THE brand of McDonald’s for my entire lifetime, is, for all intents-and-purposes, gone.  Why?  Because he just doesn’t work anymore. Ronald represents the McDonald’s of the past which includes: Tasty, high calorie food galore!  Fewer options done right! Simple carnival-like fun for kids!

The new generation thinks this is as dumb as a box-of-rocks.  This generation is:

  1. a) more health conscious.  I mean, we are in a child-obesity crisis.
  2. b) more savvy.  I mean, the Barnum and Bailey Circus has shut down! Can you believe.
  3. c) less gullible.  Mayor McCheese doesn’t cut it so much.
  4. d) AFRAID OF CLOWNS. Clowns are creepy (have you seen IT).  They represent child-predators. Are not funny.  And overall, lame once you turn 4.

Get the picture?

A few tips for HR to use the force and control your destiny:

  • Examine if your company’s icons are relevant any more.  Icons include your CEO’s beliefs from 15 years ago, recruitment branding that is outdated, or policies that don’t make sense anymore (like a separate sick and vacation bank).
  • Examine processes that have become “sacred cows”.  More importantly, processes that slow down decision making. Take recruiting for instance.  Tiered interviews are important, but does your SVP need to be in all the interviews for entry level positions?
  • Practice saying “no” more.  Well, not so much saying no, but setting boundaries.  Don’t start this with everyone you encounter!  Perhaps just start with your boss or a colleague you trust.  Don’t get me wrong. I am a huge believer in providing those you influence with many options and ways to say yes.  But, if you are going to ID what processes “just don’t work anymore”, you’ll need to learn ways to push-back and say “no, this just doesn’t work, and here is why….”.  
  • Don’t ask for permission (as much).  Just do, you must.  The speed of work is fast — no one else is asking for permission, why are you?  Beta test small things with your department.
  • Think about your team’s long-term legacy.  Think beyond what will get you that raise and really what will bring purpose and meaning for the longer term.  This can be your “true north”.  It will help keep you focuses when controlling your destiny at work becomes difficult.  And it certainly will.

December and January is always a great time to hit the refresh button. Take the time to reflect on yourself, with your team, or even your CEO. The future is now – don’t wait.

Oh, and I loved the Porgs…. #justsayin. (Go see the movie!).