I want you to take a minute out of your busy day and think about how much of it is spent on managing process rather than actually managing people. Or even simply communicating with them.
Human resource departments – and more specifically benefits managers – spend most of their time doing just that. Checking forms, filing paperwork and scribbling notes in calendars. Even in this digital age, there’s an awful lot of paperwork swirling around HR. It’s easy to get swept up in the flotsam of fine print and forget about the people on the other side of all those forms.
Hey, I understand. We can even get that way with our own kids sometimes. I know I do. I’ve spent more time worried about my daughter’s grade in band and my son’s grades in everything, trolling through teachers’ reports online, checking extra credit progress and circling deadlines on the school calendar. But there’s a couple of intelligent – if slightly distracted – tweens in there and they deserve more of my attention than an accountant or lawyer can give them.
Parenting is about so much more than report cards and consent forms. It’s about talking to my daughter about her uncanny inability to take her flute home every day. Or about sitting my son down to find out why he’s suddenly struggling across the board. Turns out, he needed glasses (and a swift kick in the pants). But the point is there were other things at play that didn’t show up on any paperwork.
Looking this over, it seems I’ve made this lengthy analogy comparing human resoures to Dr. Spock and I honestly didn’t mean to. But I think it works. When employees show up at your door it’s because they need something: they have a problem or simply don’t understand something they desperately need to. And I guess it’s like everything else in life: you get out of it what you put into it. Do try treat it like a box to be checked off on some list, or take it as seriously as you would your own situation?
Because employees – much like our own kids – can see how seriously you take them. And it’s not something they soon forget.