Don’t Take Sides – Take a Different View

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I find it fascinating the number of people, groups and organizations that take sides on issues and invest tremendous effort and expense debating the closely held, immutable principles that guide their beliefs. The result? Impasse and missed opportunities for solving much larger problems in ways that could benefit everyone.

Fortune Magazine ( recently published a commentary entitled How US Businesses Can Tackle Inequality – about the much-debated issue (actually a series of issues) across the globe. The value of the piece for me was that typical arguments were not rehashed, but rather different viewpoints were taken that could lead to actions and outcomes most people probably could agree with and hence progress could be made. It doesn’t mean solving the related problem(s) would be easier, but at least a positive path forward seemed possible.

The article is worth a read, not only because of the subject but because it suggests a way of framing your own thinking and approach to the problems many HR professionals face supporting organizations. It prompts questioning your beliefs and being receptive to new ways of viewing problems.

The learning seemed to be; step back, take a longer view, be open to different points of view, agree on commonality, and develop the ability to change your mind – while discovering how things got to be the way they are now.

Roadblocks to mutual understanding or agreement around difficult problems often are peoples’ adherence to their “immutable principles,” which they seldom revisit or objectively question as to whether they still apply. Key is an old expression, “If you can’t change your mind you can’t change anything.” Well said, and definitely a prerequisite for taking a different view.

With the blistering rate of change today and the blazing speed with which new technologies are being introduced, it is hard to see how “immutable principles” could survive anyway. It may be good advice, “If you must have an immutable principle today, let it be not to have any.”

If you believe in interconnectedness then you get how one element of change can affect everything related to it. Staying on track accomplishing your goals in an environment where many things are in flux, requires being alert to your surroundings and looking for ways to alter course quickly when necessary to keep you on target.

As an example, here is a brief (partial) list of key problems or questions more companies could have observed and answered well in advance of the skill shortages in recent years, which many have struggled with:

  • What rapidly advancing technologies need to be adopted in order to compete in the future?
  • How will current jobs be affected by these changes as hardware, processes, approaches and responsibilities change?
  • With schools being behind the curve turning out the right people with the right skills for current needs – what are the alternatives?
  • If one option could be retooling current employees for new jobs in advance of change, what kind of development and training is required to make them successful in their future roles?

In all cases companies needed to proactively determine how they would be affected and decide early on what they were going to do to sustain or create their futures. They needed a different view of talent and where it would come from.

Those who were able to do this had much less catching up to do and fewer crises to endure. They quickly saw the difference between “build-or-hire” and turned to retraining and retooling their staffs for the future. Although historically many businesses had done this, it was a new view of the problem and solution for many. An example of taking charge of their futures versus being the victims, holding someone else or event responsible for their lack of talent.

For the HR community, because of issues of cost, equity, fairness, and of course, compliance, prescribing solutions for the future can sometimes be difficult. This is however a core HR responsibility in the context of leading and helping businesses to succeed.

While developing this competency it often helps to have a trusted partner to explore new alternatives with, and when it comes to HR staffing, HR search and HR consulting that is Merit Resource Group. We have been focused on companies’ HR needs and HR professionals’ careers for more than 26 years. We know that keeping an effective HR organization current and proactive requires constant evaluation, upgrades and being open to change. We can help with that, and perhaps help you develop a different view of what best serves your needs at the same time. Contact us. We can also help with HR career moves for those looking.

Best regards,