Am I a HR Leaders Worst Nightmare?

Am I a HR Leaders Worst Nightmare

As a Leadership & Team Performance Coach, I often ask myself the question, am I a HR Leaders worst nightmare? Why do I reflect on this?

Well, unfortunately, when people hear the letters HR nowadays, it seems to conjure up thoughts about ‘fluffy HR stuff’, documents that look good but deliver little, or painful (or maybe grateful) memories related to ‘getting rid of people’.

Fortunately, (or unfortunately, depending on what side of the HR spectrum you sit), I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with many HR people over the years. Mostly, those I meet and have worked with are well educated, well-meaning people. They work hard to do the best they can in their role and for the company they are working for. Is that any different to most people? Not in my experience!

So, why am I ‘possibly’ a HR persons worst nightmare?

The story….

Recently, I had a really insightful conversation with an experienced HR Leader. We spoke about a number of topics, including the well talked about ones, purpose and core values (I.e. how do we behave). We exchanged some information which for me was extremely useful. I received information which included a slide deck showing me the work she had done with the leadership team around the companies purpose and core values. It was a beautiful presentation with very impressive graphic design work. Obviously, a lot of time and effort has gone into putting this document together.

Once I had finished appreciating the aesthetically pleasing nature of the document, my practical brain kicked in. “It’s 13 slides! Who the hell is going to remember what’s on 13 slides?”

Now, 13 slides doesn’t seem to be ‘death by powerpoint’, but this was purely focused on the purpose and core values for the company!

I guess that’s why a slide deck is needed, so even the presenter, who crafted it, can remember it!

And that’s my point! What is the use of having beautiful slides showing the purpose and core values that nobody in your organisation can, or will remember?

Can you imagine a scenario where a current or potential customer asks an employee a question about the companies purpose and core values? I imagine it would go something like, “Hold on, let me get out the 13 slides and I can tell you!”

So, again, let me ask, why am I ‘possibly’ a HR persons worst nightmare?


KISS Principle

Maybe it’s because I believe in the ‘KISS’ principle. ‘Keep It Short & Simple’! Well, to tell you the truth, I want to say ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’ but I am trying to be helpful – not offend people!

To be fair to HR people, I don’t believe they are alone in over complicating this stuff. They are often caught up in the global leadership problem of ‘over complicating’ to show how ‘smart’ they are (Danger! Danger! Leadership Humility alert!). Rather than ‘keeping it short & simple’ and the leadership team putting all their effort into actually improving the ‘health’ (i.e. culture) of their organisation.

Now, putting the impressive graphic design work aside, and looking at the detail in the document, I would challenge the leadership group of the company on how they could ever employ a person who embodies their core values? If the company was true to their core values, then they could only ever employ Superman or Wonder Woman! And we all know that ‘perfect person’ doesn’t exist!

What they have done is create a document that includes their core values and aspirational values. This is a common mistake.


Core values are simply two or three behavioural traits that are inherent in an organisation. They already exist and don’t change over time. Core values are non-negotiable. They guide every single aspect of an organisation (including hiring – hence my reference to Superman and Wonder Woman earlier!).

Aspirational values are values that an organisation wants to have, wishes they had, and believe they have to develop in order to achieve success. For an organisation to achieve turning aspirational values into core values, they need to deliberately manage these aspirational values into their organisation.

Now, going back to the graphically impressive document. This particularly company say they are obsessed with customer experience. If that’s the case, maybe the following on one slide says everything that needs to be said:

Purpose: We exist to provide the ‘ultimate customer experience’.

Core Values: We behave with passion, transparency and ‘people smarts’. 

It’s short. It’s simple. More employees will remember it. If people can remember it, there is far more chance of them actually ‘living and breathing’ it. They could even talk with current or potential customers without skipping a beat to dig for the slides!

As a leader in your organisation, would you rather a beautifully impressive slide presentation, or employees that have absolute clarity around the organisations purpose and core values (how we behave)?

If it was this clear, organisations just might start attracting the ‘right people’, and filtering out the ‘misaligned people’.

So, am I a HR Leaders worst nightmare? Maybe, but not because of how I like to ‘Keep it Short & Simple’. It is because I believe employees must be aligned with the organisations purpose and core values. When this happens, a lot of the HR issues that take up time and money, will be greatly reduced.


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