THE ULTIMATE BLOG ON ALL THINGS HR
& THEN SOME
& THEN SOME
The magic of encountering Elliot the dragon as the dragon stood across the river from a human changed a human’s viewpoint. This is what the world needs now. Not just love—it comes before love—when individuals allow themselves to see other individuals as just that: individuals. Perhaps it IS love. We need to move away from putting people into boxes of race, culture, religion, political leaning, sexual orientation, and even gender. Instead, we ought to embrace individualism.
Merriam-Webster defines individualism as, “the concept that all values, rights, and duties originate in individuals.” The most terrifying thing in the world today is groupthink. While I understand it can be a source of comfort for people—to feel part of a group instead of alone or isolated—it is dangerous. Spiritual teacher Eknath Easwaran warns us, “The suffering of our industrial age is loneliness, alienation, and despair. Alienation can cause terrible harm; for it is when we feel isolated and alone that we lose sensitivity to others.” I would argue it is also when we enmesh ourselves within a group we may also lose that sensitivity.
Here’s the thing: individuals make up groups. For groupthink to take over, you must surrender individual thoughts. Who wants that?? Even when supporting a political candidate, do you really want your voice silenced? It’s one thing to belong to a chess club or meet monthly with others in your profession. It’s a whole other thing to promote any level of hatred for groups of people different from you. Perhaps hatred is a strong word: displaying superiority or trying to make others feel inferior because they disagree.
We all are in this world with backgrounds that will never be the same as another person’s, even if you have siblings. Why? We each have our own experiential perspective. In my previous blog Minding the Generational Gap, I cautioned you to be cognizant of your own biases. Let us not be sheep in the traditional sense. In fact, I challenge you to shear your wool, tie-dye it, and wear it as a cape! BE yourself. And here’s the kicker: allow others to be themselves as well.
How does this relate to Human Resources? Let me count the ways! The recruitment process sees a lot of individuals applying for the same job. As an employer, what are you looking for in a candidate? Education, experience, and a certain skill set, right? As an HR professional or hiring manager, I advise you to put less stock in someone who simply looks good on paper. Because good on paper does not always translate to good in person, meaning personality. But I’m pretty sure you already know that.
Second is culture. While I understand an employee’s job description calls for certain duties to be performed and perhaps specific licensure or qualifications, there should be room for them to shine as a person. If not, organizational culture will suffer. Even if you are a judge or government agent, being yourself should be allowed to some degree. I firmly believe self-identity in the workplace directly correlates to employee engagement. I’m not talking about being good at their job. I’m talking about the little things that make someone who they are—sense of humor, peculiarities, how they talk, how they walk, how they treat others.
Let me take culture a step further as it pertains to Human Resources. Trust can be difficult to obtain from employees. In my experience, when I present my authentic self to employees, the wall between HR and employees disappears. My goal is personal—I genuinely enjoy getting to know employees as individuals, not just numbers on a spreadsheet. This enriches my life as an individual, not just an HR Director.
So to enhance organizational culture, individuality should reign supreme. I hope you’re beginning to see a running thread here. Conquering groupthink doesn’t mean fighting the existence of collectivity or shared ideas. Diminishing groupthink equates to welcoming individuality. Individuality breeds engagement. When an employee has permission to share their personality, magical things occur.
Shakespeare wrote, “To thine own self be true.” I highly encourage employees to be who they are. I urge leaders to do the same. Encourage community over groupthink. Individuals should guard against losing themselves within the group or trying to drown out other’s voices. Here is what the authors of Reframing Organizations proffer, “Combine advocacy with inquiry. Advocacy includes statements that communicate what an individual actually thinks, knows, wants, or feels. Inquiry seeks to learn what others think, know, want, or feel.”
Seeking clarity within community is essential for communication and growth. In the movie, Elliot was hunted because some people feared him without knowing his intentions. Individualism can exist within community and can even enhance the communal experience. Don’t fall into the trap of groupthink bred by fear. Learn about each other and give one another permission to BE.
Bolman, L.G., Deal, T.E. (2013). Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice, and leadership (5th ed). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Easwaran, E. (1996). Original goodness: A commentary on the beatitudes (2nd ed). Tomales, CA: Nilgiri Press.
Creator: That makes me sound all powerful. I suppose I am in many ways. Hi! My name's Amy and I've been practicing HR for twelve years now. No big deal. I am here to offer fresh perspective on HR topics and topics about the world we live in and life in general.