It seems to me that in considering our activity and achievements at work we are sometimes all about the absolutes – satisfaction measured by ticks in boxes and to-do lists laid waste. For some (and at times I wish I was one of them) it’s about have we got a plan, a list, a set of actions to deliver and can we turn around at the end of it and shout “finished”. The problem that leads to is actually effectiveness of either the work or more broadly of the organisation is not measured by the attainment of task but actually with the impact that task had and the results it delivered.
I remember a conversation with a colleague in HR who had been on the receiving end of fairly blunt (and constructive) feedback from one of the HR senior management. The top line of the feedback was that the part of the organisation this individual was supporting weren’t changing, weren’t developing, weren’t becoming more effective and actually the results they were delivering were getting worse. Despite having a clear action plan which had been delivered the perception was HR hadn’t done enough to challenge the organisation, hadn’t had the difficult conversation, made the timely intervention and hadn’t provoked enough change.
To say the individual found the feedback difficult would be understating it. Over several conversations they got down ‘off the ledge’ but I’m still not convinced they realised that whilst their division was legally compliant and they had done everything they’d been asked that sometimes legal and required is not enough – we need to do more. There are of course arguments to say the line managers were accountable for their performance (and they were held to account) but if the HR profession stands any hope of moving from compliance to the oft discussed business partner we need to actually do more than tick the box.