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Humareso Blog

Higher Ground

Making an informed decision seems like a good plan.  I think most companies would look favorably on employees that decide to do that.  It seems like a mature, thoughtful response.

In school, I was involved in a pretty good food fight in the cafeteria.  Mashed potatoes were thrown onto the walls in our attempts to create art.  The school did not think it the best use of the food, especially when it moved from walls to people.  It was one of the rare times I was brought to the principal’s office (I was usually not caught for the stuff I did, not because I was angelic).  Because I had my own skin to protect (from my dad!), I found a way to present information that not only removed any malevolent thought of me, but actually made me sound like a good guy operating in the fallen humanity of school.  Brilliant? Yes.  True? Ummmmmmmmmmmmm.

What if the information is flawed?

It’s probably due to a few possibilities.  One – perhaps there is a gap in the way information is gathered.  Maybe there are some steps that have been bypassed due to ignorance.  In our efforts to be efficient, we can forego communication steps and not look back.  Maybe we didn't know the process or all of the people involved.  We can easily assume some “facts” and fill in the blanks ourselves.  It’s not what we would like to do, I know, but the pressure of getting things done cause us to create shortcuts.

Have you ever been in a meeting where you offer a perspective as an absolute, only to find out that most of the room knows pivotal details?  And now you look like an absolute idiot?  Yeah, it’s never happened to me…I feel badly for you people (an obvious lie if you’ve ever been in a room with me!).

Secondly, the informed decision may be colored by self-esteem issues.  Crazy as it may seem, but there might be among those with whom we work a person or two who are devastated when they are not the founts of information.  To that end, they might offer bits and pieces of information so as to try to coax out the rest.  When bits and pieces fly around like that, it leaves open inference and flawed interpretation.  The decisions made would be based upon granules rather than rocks of truth.

And then there’s political positioning.  I have been in organizations where communication is used based upon maligned purposes.  There can be treachery and back-stabbing in an organization with information sharing an easy road to travel.  I may only share what I want others to know, with a longer term plan in place to paint someone in a bad light, to make myself seem more important or to inflate the view of the department I lead.  Shocking, I know, but it happens.

For those of us in an HR capacity, we have to be a bit more eyes wide open about information.  It is a necessity for us to do our homework.  Cultural and relational impact is likely to occur from some of the decisions to be made based on certain information.  We can serve in an unbiased manner and gather all of the facts.  If we were to slip into some of the posturing or sloppiness addressed above, we compromise our role as a strategic partner to the overall health of the business.

Over the past few months, I have conversed with some business owners whose experience with HR people has them characterized as “mealy-mouthed” or “chatty Cathys.”  What a sad perspective.  Is it really likely that our informed decisions will be seen as informed decisions when the impression we give falls into those categories?   It’s not about our skin.  It’s about our commitment to the senior leadership team to deliver truth that will encourage growth and health for the organizations we serve.

Really, what’s the worst that would have happened if I just admitted to flinging a spoonful of mashed potatoes?  Detention, cleaning it up, some Philly-Italian-style parenting?  You gotta have something to go to therapy with, right?