Priming for Human Resource Pros
As in many jobs, you in HR have the huge challenge of influencing people without being able to simply tell them what to do. Because you are usually not the direct manager of the people you are working with, you will often find yourself in a situation where you have to manage up—you have to convince people above you in the organization about how decisions are going to affect employees.
Another unique challenge for you HR pros is finding the balance between helping people fulfill their potential and holding them accountable. And if all of this weren’t challenging enough, you also have to help guide change you didn’t initiate. Whew!
Many of these situations apply to other managers as well, but you HR pros have some very interesting challenges when it comes to managing the dynamics of people.
In my book, Energize, I talk about the three characters in your mind that are necessary for motivation. You HR pros have to be good at doing all three:
Calming the Cavemen
On a daily basis, you are going to have someone (or a group of someones) in your office who need calming. Since the cavemen part of our brains—the survival instinct—is always looking for threats, this can result in rigidity, irrationality and overreaction. When you encounter employees with an overactive caveman response, you must help them calm their fears, straighten out misconceptions, come up with solutions to their challenges, or simply find a positive attitude if they are angry. HR pros need to be able to empathize as part of calming people down.
Convincing the Thinker
The thinker is the part of the brain that is able to think clearly, consider the future, and process complex ideas. As an HR pro, you need to be able to help convince the thinker when it comes to your colleagues. To do this when managing up, make sure you have facts to back up your suggestions. Talking about how to positively affect the bottom line will make managers more open to your ideas. When it comes to motivating employees around change or resolving issues, you can use tools such as listing long-term benefits for achieving a challenge and brainstorming multiple plans and consequences. If employees feel like they are part of a solution, they are more apt to participate in it.
Energizing the Artist
Being able to activate the artist in others is a powerful motivational skill. The artist fuels our passion for things we feel deeply about. When you’re guiding change, it’s especially beneficial to help people tap into their artists. You can do this by identifying how the change applies to their passions and values, as well as highlighting the benefits of the change for their jobs and duties.
One of the key things to remember when guiding or influencing change is that motivating people around the change is critical. When we are overworked and life is hectic, it can be easy to treat change like a transaction, and simply tell people that they must do it. That occasionally works with some people, but usually backfires if employees don’t understand the need for the change and aren’t emotionally invested in it.
Being in HR is in some ways like being a parent. A big portion of your job is trying to influence. (But one hint here: Don’t ever think of your employees as children, even though they may act like it from time to time!)
If you’d like to chat more about HR challenges, I would love to help. And check out these additional blog posts to watch fun videos on how to Calm the Caveman, Convince the Thinker and Energize the Artist.