Tear in my eye for another end to another summer. Kids are heading back to school, traffic increases again, school supplies will cost me $10,000 (OK, I exaggerate but pretzels, tissues and disinfectant wipes…really?). Weekends will be full of soccer, baseball and football games. And of course, we move into Pumpkin Spice season where everything produced now must have that flavor for two months. There’s no way around the transition; we’ve got to embrace that time marches on.
Within our organizations, we should find such transitions. Business has a life to it. There’s an ebb and flow. It doesn’t mean, necessarily, just in terms of profits, but also in terms of talent, creativity, ingenuity, design and development. We have watched great talent come and go. We have had peaks of incredible and energetic design and then valleys of “writer’s block.” Those of us in the trenches have witnessed these seasons, especially the longer we’ve been with a company.
What we may have also witnessed is denial. Denial that this can occur. Denial that the company needs to change and to evolve in order to keep up with the changing seasons, let alone lead the charge in the change. Some of us have experienced our companies putting their shades on and hoping for the best. Hope is a valuable commodity and it sets a tone, but hope does not pay the bills. Action is needed and a plan must be developed.
Avoiding a reality does not make it go away. As people, we may struggle with this. Our personal lives may contain areas that we don’t like; instead of addressing the problem and creating a solution, we may stick our heads in the sand and hope it goes away. How’s that plan been working for ya?
Companies are no different. They are run by people. People who in their personal lives may use avoidance as a coping mechanism. Those people then use similar techniques as they lead organizations or manage departments and teams. They do what they are used to doing. Someone has to jolt those people back to true reality.
When companies like Singer, Brother and Kodak kept their heads in the sand too long, they missed the boat. Technology and business development moved on without them. How sad would it be for Samsung, Apple or Google to find themselves in similar straits in ten to twenty years? I know that seems unlikely, but I am sure those admirers of Singer, Brother and Kodak would have felt the same.
HR professionals should be able to have the honest conversation with their leadership. If you cannot, then you might want to start with that dialogue. How can I represent the company effectively in managing talent without having an outlet to debrief, discuss and correct? You’ve got to have a voice. If you’ve got that voice, then your company needs you to use it. Examine what can be done better, differently. Look to see what the competition is doing, what the market is doing. Look to see where those things are going. Study your piece of the pie and the pie as a whole.
Avoiding the necessary changes and the seasons of development will not set you or your company up for success. Wearing sunglasses at night will not change reality once the glasses are removed and the lights are turned on. Speak with passionate intensity around where the company is to go. Have a plan, not a complaint list. Have data, not just a feeling. Have solutions, not just problems.
And if wearing sunglasses for those conversations makes you feel a little bit cooler, tougher and stronger, then go for it. I have my Wayfarers on right now…