… the HR Minion. Because even minions have opinions. And giggles.

When a process breaks down


I’m gonna let you in on a well known secret about HR: HR loves coming up with and enforcing processes. We get practically giddy over it. Recruitment, benefits, compliance; you name it and we have a process for it. Really.

Naw, I can’t lie to you. Let me assure you that no, HR does not sit around all day trying to come up with processes on how to do everything. It’s as much a waste of our time as it is of yours. We would much rather be getting things done. Unfortunately, sometimes well thought out and documented processes are both necessary and important. Safety, security, emergencies; anytime when a lack of a plan can lead to harm to a person or risk to the company you should have a clearly defined process in place.

But if a clearly defined and documented plan, as nice as that is, is all you have then it is bound to break down, often at the worst time possible. In order for a process to actually have a meaningful impact it needs to be more than a page in your employee handbook.

Effective Processes are:
– Communicated clearly to all impacted parties. They need to know what to do and when.
– Trained and run through routinely to ensure that all impacted parties know how to do what is expected.
– Have buy in from all impacted parties. They not only need to understand the why of the process, they need to internalize it as well so they accept their responsibility for adhering to the process.

And in spite of all that preparation, things can still go wrong. No one’s perfect and neither is a process. People get complacent and process become outdated and forgotten. That’s why how you recover from a process break down is just as important as how you put it together in the first place.

When processes break down:
– Accept the situation and don’t start playing the blame game. Recovery is not about finding fault, it’s about moving forward to prevent it from happening again.
– Examine where the break down in the process occurred, which could be in more than one area, and determine what needs to be changed, re-trained on, or if the process simply is no longer working and something new needs to be created.
– Solicit feedback from multiple sources and build in opportunities to re-visit the policy again in the future to make sure it is still a workable plan.

Most importantly of all, don’t focus on enforcing processes blindly across your company. Empower your people to make good decisions by being transparent about issues such as safety and security. An empowered employee is an engaged employee, and also one better prepared to step up during a time of crisis. HR should never be the lone advocate any more than they should be the policy police.

A good process is like a brownie recipe. It takes the right ingredients, put together in the right way, at the right time. Yes, sometimes you forget to add an ingredient and end up with a mess. But at doesn’t stop you from trying again. After all, who can say no to all that gooey, chocolately, goodness… Damn it, being on a healthy diet is hard! I better start reminding myself why I care about my health before my diet has a break down.

Flow Chart image from cracked.com and brownies from skinnymom.com

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