A why is needed to THRIVE

The theme of the 2015 SHRM Annual Conference is THRIVE. If you’re here and didn’t notice the ten foot tall letters on the stage, then please exit stage left and re-enter the room!

The stage at #SHRM15

Hank Jackson, the CEO of SHRM, echoed this theme yesterday. He hit upon a few points during his extended opening remarks as the conference officially kicked off.

Citing the newly released edition of Harvard Business Review, Hank talked about the necessity of HR to lead their organizations and step into roles that define to other executives what is important for the organization’s people. One of the articles in the magazine by Peter Capelli says that “the HR team can show these executives what they should care about and why.” Often, HR pros can conquer the what, but struggle with the why. This must change!

There are many in HR who would prefer to say “it’s the law” or “that is company policy” rather than provide rationale for the reason decisions are made. To me, it’s important to be able to speak to the reason behind a decision – the why of the decision. This concept is captured by Simon Sinek in his book Start with Why. Capelli cites something similar in the article when he says “knowledge of practices is essential, but it’s more important to understand what works when and where.” While this may remind some of you of your elementary school writing lessons (are you answering the W questions?) this practice is still essential in today’s workplace. Workers of today, no matter their generation, are not predisposed to simply follow orders because someone says so. Frankly, if the why can’t be explained, perhaps the decision needs to be reexamined.

Go beyond the what and cover the why. After that, ensure the when and where are correct too. This will bring the ability to thrive to not only to the organization, but to you as well.

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