Anarchist: A person who rebels against any authority, established order, or ruling power.
Guess what? Anarchists are alive and well in your company. And HR is SICK OF IT. Every time we try to do something good, we get criticism. Why? Because we have the “appearance” of some sort of control – no other reason. It’s like I work for an entire organization of George Costanzas, pecking away at everything. Pecking. Away. At. Everything. For the love of all that is good, George, just zip-it. Really.
Rebels-without-a-cause who throw around the word bureaucracy like a hipster throws a Frisbee, or cornhole, or baby bean-bags, or whatever. Hipster, you have ideas on how to do my job better? Then walk a mile in my shoes, buddy.
For example, HR orders pizza for the company lunch and the health freaks want hummus. Add a little salad to the menu and the marketing team who plays basketball on Thursdays need power proteins. Don’t get me started on the Paleo freaks. And if HR makes an executive decision on the lunch menu, we’re too bureaucratic. I mean, are you really complaining about “top-down” lunch ordering being too confining?
My God, don’t get me started on millennials. Complaining to HR if they don’t get a promotion within a year. And yes, oh yes, oh yes, will I hear about that lack of promotion for the next month. And so will Glassdoor. Then later when someone does get a promotion, it won’t be for enough money. Lose-lose.
Too much complaining, too much negativity, too much hassle. I’ve quit asking for feedback because, frankly, I don’t have time for it. And frankly, I don’t care.
HR PRO WARNING: IF YOU READ ANY OF THAT STATEMENT AND AGREED WITH IT, IT IS TIME FOR YOU TO FIND ANOTHER GIG.
Or at least a little perspective.
OK – I get that leadership, especially HR leadership – is hard. Hopefully, early in your career you learned your HR department is in the unique position of influencing and affecting all other departments. With that exposure (some may interpret as perceived power) your job is to connect. And that means the anarchists, too.
Frankly, a certain type of anarchist should be embraced and highly sought after. For example, I work with someone who is, and I quote, a “self-proclaimed anarchist.” I would call him a “benevolent anarchist.” And frankly, I love this guy. Why?
- He isn’t big on rules for rules’ sake. Good… that keeps HR honest and humble.
- He is a proponent of continuous improvement. The context of his anarchist ways, if you will, is to help sustain, grow and better the organization. Not to tear it down. He bought into our culture at hire. His anarchy rears its head if leaders stray away from our cultural foundation, which is easy to do as we grow.
- He can articulate why something is not working with proof points. There is a method to his madness.
- He asks questions.
- He is bought into our corporate culture that believes that bottom-up feedback makes work a better and more productive place. His form of “anarchy” is in line with our cultural standard. Again, we hire for that.
- He keeps me from presuming anything. Anything. I may have a fab idea that I roll out. But it won’t be fab to all 250 or 500 of 10,000 team members. I have to keep that in mind or I’ll go crazy thinking I will make all happy. Or that I won’t get some sort of “negative” feedback. It’s really not negative; it’s just feedback.
- He’s taught me how to be an HR anarchist. Therefore, we partner together on terrific solves since we trust each other now.
And what about the anarchists that complain to complain? Well, it is good to see how the “outliers” think. But if they can’t articulate the “why” around their complaints, drop them like a hot potato. Or send them to an EAP. I haven’t any time for those who cry wolf.
So, embrace the anarchist. And if you are lucky, you may even become an HR anarchist, too.
PS. HR, quit volunteering to order lunch, by the way, as well.
Dawn Burke, VP of Talent Consulting at Kinetix and founder/advisor for Dawn Burke HR, is an HR leader, speaker, and writer specializing in new HR practices, engagement and workplace culture. Her HR/recruiting/leadership career has spanned the last 20 years, with past gigs including a foundational role as VP of People for Birmingham, AL’s award-winning technology company, Daxko (And yes, Kris Dunn and Dawn are making Bham the HR capital of the world! Who knew?). You can also check her out at DawnHBurke.com and a variety of other interesting places. Google her, it’ll keep you posted on what she is up to.
Most importantly: She is addicted to TV, knows most of the lyrics to Hamilton and West Side Story, loves to cry at movies (check out Cinema Paradiso for a cry fest!), thinks wine, a wheel of Brie and Milk Duds make a well-balanced dinner, and sings in her car daily. Her husband and cat are the Yin to her Yang.