The other day, I suffered from a retail experience that we’ve all encountered. I was at the counter ready to check out and there were two management types behind the counter “busy doing things,” as they were trying to find another clerk to write me up. It literally took a PA announcement and then another minute or so to get someone behind the counter.
I don’t know about you, but if I were the owner of that store and watched this going on, I would be horrified. The most important thing to that store’s survival — its customer, willing to spend money now — was completely ignored by two able-bodied employees. I don’t care what they were doing. I don’t care what their title was. They should have stopped and gone to the counter. Everything else that business does is secondary. As you can imagine, I have no desire to ever shop at that store again.
As Dr. Deming was fond of saying, “Management tends to recycle ignorance.” This experience is a classic example of what he meant. How can employees possibly know how to do better when management doesn’t know to do better?
Unfortunately, much of the same type of thing goes on in HR. Instead of focusing on the strength of the personnel relationship, we build up a lot of administration around it — our own little bureaucracies — with the same horrible consequences. Do your HR managers focus on their “busyness” at the expense of what’s really important? Take a look at this month’s Form of the Month: The 12-Question Survey. I’d be curious to see how your HR person would answer it.