It has given me immense pleasure over the last ten days or so to watch a family of Blackbirds grow to maturity, having left the nest about 3 weeks before. For the first ten days the chicks were hidden under a bush, kept out of site by protective parents, but as they have grown in confidence they have been running around our garden testing their wings and soaking up everything that is new around them. Their father has been caring for them and feeding them as Mother Blackbird is not around. Unfortunately I don’t know why. Every morning and evening as I watch them it has made me think about the lessons we mere humans can learn from the Blackbirds.
There are both people management and people development lessons to be learnt from the Blackbirds so in this blog I am focusing on the HR or people management lessons that came to mind as I have been watching the chicks grow up.
In the early hours of this morning I had a dream. It was so vivid and valid to today's workplace that I wanted to capture it before it faded. My dream was about recruitment and selection. A female who was recently qualified in HR had come into a company I was working in to do some recruitment for a position. When I asked her about how her first interview had gone she said that the person had all the qualities they were looking for apart from one, which was a lack of experience in a particular test they needed her to manage. As a result they turned her application down. I was angry in my dream because I thought what a waste that was. All the things that the interview candidate could do had been overlooked for the one thing she couldn't do. As I awoke it put me in mind of what a recruitment consultant colleague of ours, Martin Johnson, often says. Martin's view is that interviewers focus on what people can't do, rather than what they can do. So what, I hear you cry. Why is that important? In today's world of high employment (a 40 year record I read in the Times on the plane yesterday) focusing on what people can do rather than what they can't will become essential in the battle for skilled and talented employees. Training people in the areas where they are weak will become an important solution to the skills shortage in the future.
So why am I telling you about my dream?
This week my thoughts have turned to compassion at work. Where has it gone? In today's throwaway society, where it is cheaper to replace rather than repair, this approach appears to have transferred to people, particularly in a working environment. There clearly is compassion in the world, demonstrated by the amount of money that is raised for sick children, or for situations like the tsunami of several years ago. So why is it that this compassion doesn't come so easily in the workplace? This week's blog demonstrates how showing a bit of compassion for employees and colleagues at work can yield real benefits to both parties, as well as increasing loyalty and goodwill towards the Company and the managers and directors involved. We could tell you lots of stories about where compassion hasn't been shown, but I prefer to think of the good examples while we are celebrating our 21st birthday, rather than the bad!
I never imagined when I set CHaRM up 21 years ago that we would still be going strong all this time later. All I knew at the time was that I needed to get out of corporate life and stop working for stupid people who let their egos get in the way of anything positive happening. Like most people who start their own business, I did not really understand what I was letting myself in for or how much I needed to learn about running a business. All I knew was HR really; the rest came along the way - sales, marketing, accounts etc. What I really wanted to do was to provide HR support to businesses who didn't have the same support as larger businesses. I knew how effective HR could be when it was done properly, and the impact it could have on businesses and on people's lives. That is what I wanted to do and that is what we have been doing here at CHaRM over the last 21 years. We are very fortunate to have such a good bunch of clients - people who do care about their employees and want to do the right thing by them. That fits so well with our own ethos and anything we can do to support that is great. I believe every small and medium sized enterprise should have great HR support.