5 Lessons on Fixing Work from HR Experts

December 12, 2018 Jess Huckins

Episode of WorkHuman Radio Live

Last week, HR experts, consultants, writers, and speakers Laurie Ruettimann and Jason Lauritsen visited Globoforce’s Framingham, Mass., office for the first-ever episode of WorkHuman Radio Live. Hosted by our own Mike Wood, the event covered why work is broken – and Laurie’s and Jason’s ideas for fixing it.

Here’s what we learned.

1. Attitude matters – even at work.

Laurie started her blog while working in a corporate HR role, but she soon found that simply writing about what was wrong with her environment didn’t make her feel any better.

“I realized that the only way to fix work was to fix myself,” she said. Her attitude was getting in the way of taking control of her life, career, and happiness. “Once I stopped seeing myself like a victim and started owning my own employee experience, it gave me the courage to go out on my own and be a consultant and writer.”

2. Finding yourself is key to working human.

Not every job is perfect, and some environments are worse than others by design. Laurie explained, however, that sitting down and spending time with yourself to figure out what you value can help you avoid work situations for which you aren’t a good fit. She used writing exercises to figure out who she is and what she stood for.

“If you know what you stand for, you’re not going to find yourself in a job that’s toxic,” she said. “You’re not going to put up with shenanigans. And when it gets bad enough, you’re definitely going to leave.”

3. Careers take collaboration, not top-down enforcement.

We’ve long discussed scrapping the annual performance review – or at least complementing it with continuous conversations.  

“One of the biggest issues we have is that we took this thing – the management of work – and reduced it to a singular transaction that happens once a year,” said Jason. He believes performance management as we know it today will soon be completely different.

“It doesn’t make any sense as a standalone thing,” he continued. “What we need are better processes within management that help foster, encourage, support, cultivate better performance, better management. That’s fixing things like teaching us how to give feedback in a way that’s not dehumanizing. It’s learning how to have clarity in our articulated expectations of one another as human beings.”

Laurie believes individual contributors should take control – ask for feedback, and don’t be afraid of it. “Be brave and be confident in the quality of your work,” she said.

“Performance management is a process, not an event,” Jason said. “Conversations® … is a step in that direction for sure.” He noted that making this shift doesn’t mean removing HR, but instead teaching HR how to facilitate these collaborative discussions.

4. You can be the change.

When asked how to handle a workplace where some people have toxic, old-school mindsets and others don’t, Laurie and Jason emphasized being the change you want to see. They explained that more people will come over to your side when they see how much happier you and the people around you are.

“I don’t think you have to force everybody to the middle,” Jason said. “The half on the work human side are having a better, more affirming, more fulfilling work experience. Feed each other, protect each other, and keep inviting the other folks into that. It’s hard not to look at both and not go ‘oh yeah, that is better.’ ”

He said if the goal is to bring a whole organization around, it’ll take “a leader who gets it.”

5. Workplaces should foster well-being and relationships.

When asked about the future of HR, Laurie said workplaces should be developing “policies, programs, and instruments to help people live a better life.” She suggested helping employees with financial planning (“there’s so much student debt out there!”) and focusing on other programs that support employees in their quest for a better future.

Jason agreed, saying employees need help “having core human needs satisfied.” If people are worried about finances, relationships, health, or other issues that distract them, they are only about 50 percent engaged at work.

While many organizations view work as a transaction or a contract, Jason noted that employees tend to view it more as a relationship. Many people have been burned by bad employer-employee relationships, and it takes time for them to develop trust and bring their most vulnerable and open selves to the office. That said, we spend eight to nine hours a day with our co-workers, and we should make an effort to be friendly and to develop those relationships even if we’re scared of being hurt.

“We have a loneliness epidemic in this country. Should you have friends at work?” he asked. “Yes. It might actually save their life.”

Watch the whole episode here:

Don’t miss Laurie and Jason at WorkHuman 2019.

For more on performance management, pick up Jason’s latest book, “Unlocking High Performance” – and come back in January for our full book review.

About the Author

Jess Huckins

Jess Huckins is senior content manager, sales enablement at Workhuman. She enjoys investigative journalism and true crime, fantasy football, outdoor cooking, and adventuring in the wilderness with her three dogs.

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