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I Hear A Symphony

In my living room sits a piano that belonged to my wife's grandmother.  It's an upright and it sounds beautiful.  My wife dabbles on it from time to time.  What I wished for was that at least one of my three children would want to play the piano.  What I am currently dealing with are three children with little desire to do so and one bitter, Italian dad (can you guess which one I am?)

I had visions of being serenaded by my kids, you know, something similar to what the kids in The Sound of Music did.  I mean, am I asking for too much?

Simply, yes.  My vision for The New Partridge Family is not shared by the "company" I lead at home (please don't tell my wife I said I lead the company).  Forcing my objectives onto the group will not yield the product I desire, and even if I demand that they comply, what kind of music will I hear?  My expectation of soul-stirring singing with instruments in accompaniment will fall flat as the hearts of those performing will not be committed to the task at hand.

Often, in the organizations we serve, we are tasked with fitting "square" employees into "round" jobs.  We have become accustomed to by-passing talent and ability in order to meet basic skills requirements.  When I was working for the major distribution center for a national retailer, I could and did perform the tasks of sorting, re-packaging and tagging that took place.  I met the basic skills requirements, but would that have been the best use of my talent or skill?  Couldn't there be people in your organization that are misaligned?  Are you listening to the music and reporting on what you hear?  Who's out of tune?

I very much enjoy classical and operatic music.  When I hear those instruments working together to tell a story through music, my mind is transported.  I know I am hearing greatness, but not because the players are playing their instruments well.  Rather, it's because the players love playing their instruments well; it's what they were made to do.  Do we ever ask in a performance review - What do you think you were made to do?  OK, un-cringe.  It's not about religion or personal belief systems necessarily, but more about aligning talent to the best possible role.  Isn't that a responsibility in HR?

Mentoring programs and coaching sessions are great; I do them, I know.  However, those things will just be meetings if the other person involved does not see purpose and passion in what he/she is doing.  My kids aren't playing the piano because it's not what they are passionate about.  Baseball, soccer, dance, art...those things get my kids excited to perform and to do it well.  What a miserable existence to force someone to do something they don't want to do.  Why would it be any different for the employees at our companies?

Sometimes, the answer may be that an employee does not fit with the organization.  It is okay to realize an employee is not performing to the level needed and with the passion required.  Fit matters.  Often, the employee is already aware so the conversation about fit should go smoother.  The ability for our organizations to achieve greatness is, in part, a product of our strategic interface with all personnel and in understanding the KSA's involved.

Look for where the organization is out of tune and address it.  Don't just grit your teeth at the awful sound and hope it passes soon.  Be proactive.  Our role in human resources allows for our expertise to shine in such a capacity as this.

By the way, you may have asked yourself whether I can play the piano.  As long as playing the two keys needed for the Theme from Jaws counts, then yes, I play.

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