A Tiny Mindset Shift That Could Change Your Organization

July 17, 2018 Robin Schooling


I’ve worked in human resources for quite some time and, like many of my HR colleagues, I am quite fond of the phrase “nothing surprises me anymore.” Interestingly enough though, I find myself being surprised almost every day – sometimes multiple times per day.

And I love it.

I’ve assembled quite a repository of workplace tales about the things people consider appropriate to do between the time they clock in and the time they head out at the end of the day. A sizable number of the stories are shocking, quite a few are sad, and others are just plain amusing; human beings, after all, are complicated creatures with varying personalities, styles, wants, and needs. These people, each one unique, join our organizations and bring their quirks, idiosyncrasies, and messy personal lives right along with them.

Human beings are also resilient and amazing, with the potential to do incredible things. People fall down and they get back up. They power through obstacles to take care of themselves, their families, and their communities. People laugh and love and some of them have seemingly limitless energy and enthusiasm to keep moving forward no matter what. Quite often, in the face of adversity, we witness incredible strength and perseverance. I’ve had co-workers with unimaginable trauma occurring in their personal lives continue to bring their “A” game at work and wondered how they could manage.

Of course, I’ve also worked with those who have committed seemingly every act of workplace treason: lying, cheating, stealing, harassment, and fighting. I’ve worked with the anti-social and the downright rude.

That’s life.

I firmly believe, however, that all people are inherently good and that all people want to do the right thing. I approach every interaction with employees and new hires from that point of entry; I never assume they’re going to do the wrong thing, but rather anticipate they will always do the right thing.

Unfortunately, on far too many occasions over the years, I’ve interacted with leaders and HR practitioners who assume the worst of people. It’s from them I’ve heard things like, “We need these rules because everyone we hire is lazy” or “They just want to do the minimum and take the paycheck” or “I know our employees are just trying to get around the system.” When this philosophy infiltrates an organization, the tendency is to implement more rules and policies in an attempt to coerce employees into rigidly staying in step.

This needs to be fixed. But all is not lost.

We can begin the shift by working on a mindset adjustment with senior leaders. We make a change when we:

  • Adopt the belief that all individual employees have an innate desire to do their best work
  • Promote values of confidence, freedom, and trust in order to provide a safe environment for employees to learn, create, and collaborate
  • Create a workplace that recognizes each employee’s unique contribution, even when their personalities or styles may be a bit quirky

That’s when we get to celebrate humanity and share some amazing HR stories.

No surprises there!

About the Author

Robin Schooling

Robin is managing partner for HR and people strategy with Peridus Group.

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