In Search of Clear Purpose
The need to get super clear about my business purpose has been weighing on my mind for a while.
I confess that manifesto writing has been gathering cobwebs on my to-do list for an age.
I have been skirting around the edge, cautiously dipping my toe in as I wrote posts that explored the realities, dangers, rules to be broken, new purpose, dreams and opportunities waiting to be seized by HR.
But the truth is that I am stuck, stalled and in need of inspiration.
Whilst doing my research for this blog post, I discovered what might be the spark I need to get unstuck and begin writing.
I set myself a challenge to write a long-overdue Manifesto for my business using Sharon Tanton’s step by step guide on ‘How to write a meaningful manifesto for your business’ in Valuable Content (VC) blog.
Sharon Tanton shares a snappy definition to set the tone.
“… a manifesto documents what your business believes. Because it shines a light on your perspective, a manifesto can be a crucial differentiator for your business.
The best manifestos are written with customers in mind … Great manifestos think big. They document the change you want to bring to the world”.
I committed to give the Manifesto writing exercise a go.
Step 1, ‘The Rant’
“Let everything you don’t like about your world pour out onto a page. Use what you uncover to highlight what you do believe, and what your business is trying to change,” guides Sharon.
Yet still I fumbled, unsure where exactly to start on this mission-critical yet daunting quest.
Slightly lost, I yearned for a sign; better yet, make that an easy-peasy to use GPS navigation system.
I turned to one of my favourite Commencement Addresses by artist, author, and Design Matters host Debbie Millman. Her 2013 San Jose State University commencement address, originally and exclusively published on Brain Pickings, is a cracker.
“Start with a big fat lump in your throat. Start with a profound sense of wrong, a deep homesickness, a crazy lovesickness, and run with it. If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve. Do what you love. And don’t stop until you get what you love. Work as hard as you can. Imagine immensities. Don’t compromise and don’t waste time. In order to strive for a remarkable life, you have to decide that you want one.”
The complete and beautiful rousing call to action is a must-read for anyone who wants to get a big (‘crazy‘) idea out of their head and into the world.
Grab your seats as I get fired up to vent my spleen – all in a good cause, of course.
Gulp! Here we go.
Turn up the volume, my rant is about to begin!
Fed up. I am fed up with HR’s reputation (sadly, often deserved) of the ‘Department of No’, the place where creativity goes to die and innovation fears to enter.
Miffed. I am miffed at the portrayal of HR as a dinosaur, thrashing around in the dimming light of its echo chamber, doddering towards extinction. If we are to believe the hype and bad press, HR as a business function has already been branded ‘obsolete’ and consigned to the scrapheap to join its predecessor – Personnel.
Irked. I am irked that the HR profession has lost its way and is in danger of being left behind in this fast-changing hyper-connected world. HR has become disconnected from what actually matters to the employee community and indifferent to the real needs of the business it is meant to serve.
I absolutely refuse to believe that. There is still so much worth fighting for. All is not lost. But there is work to be done to turn indifference and outdated practises into relevance.Hey HR Pro! Do You Want To Be Liked, Or Do You Want To Lead? Click To Tweet
Wake up HR!
Don’t waste time looking back dewy-eyed at a kinder, more ordered age. Did that time even exist?
Don’t sit moldering away and complaining that Marketing and PR are taking over HR’s employer brand territory with their bigger budgets and sexier brand reputations.
Step up HR!
You are responsible for leading employer branding and the employee experience from the start of the employment relationship to the very end. Here is the irrefutable truth; no employees, no business.
This is HR’s not-so-secret weapon. Well that is unless you are a solopreneur or the robots have really taken over or Artificial Intelligence has replaced us already.
Take back HR!
Tell me, when was the last time you referred to yourself as a ‘resource’? I thought so!
Leave this corporate relic behind and find new ways to genuinely put the ‘human’ before the ‘resource.’
Putting the ‘human’ before the ‘resource’ must never be an internal branding campaign or the latest HR fad. It is a mind-set backed with action. Be more mindful and present in your business. Make what you do and how you do it resonate with those you serve.
HR pros must take extraordinary steps not only to solve problems, but also to help connect individual employee’s aspirations with the organisation’s purpose.
There is a lot of water cooler chatter and leadership retreat proclamations about the importance of encouraging employees to bring their authentic selves to work. This sounds fantastic.
But have you put out the welcome mat for different-thinking, question-asking, ruckus-making contributors? Or are you still jamming square pegs into round holes in the name of values fit?
Employees want to be seen, heard and valued as individual contributors to a meaningful cause they believe in and that rings true with their values. HR pros can make this a reality and help power business growth.Stop jamming square pegs into round holes in the name of values fit. Click To Tweet
HR as Purpose Connector.
Here is what to do. From prospect, to candidate and, finally to employee; at each stage of the relationship sincerely seek to discover, “What is your story?” “What unique value do you bring?” “How can I help?” “How can we learn from each other?” Listen. Then act.
You become part of their story and they, in turn, help co-create the organisation’s story and bring it to life. If you get the balance just right, you create an incredible alchemy. This alchemy will fuel your organisation’s purpose and help it grow through the belief and talents of your employee community.#Humancentric HR uses Storytelling, Story-Sharing and Story-Connecting to build shared Purpose Click To Tweet
HR’s progress and the development of new specialisms within the discipline over the last decades are precious heirlooms, e.g. in Recruitment, Learning and Development, Reward and Recognition. These are all extremely valuable must-keep HR-led activities which HR must hold on to now and in the future.
You can enhance and future-proof their value. HR pros must revisit their design and purpose, edit them in a different way, change the execution and repurpose them to be remarkable. There is no need for HR procedures, documents and forms to be ugly to look at and clunky to use.
Create and deliver an HR service, procedures and documents that are fantastically useful, beautifully designed with artisan-like love and attention to the tiniest detail and considered incredibly valuable by those who use them.
Are you not tired of tick-box HR?
I realise that the survival of the HR cannot be found solely within the cloistered walls of the HR function.
I am convinced that if you stay within the boundaries of your industry, you will more than likely create more iterations of sanctioned ‘best practise’ and less likely try something new or innovate. Falling in line to safeguard the status quo becomes a comfortable norm which leads to stagnation.
Danger lies in becoming too influenced by what is current.
Get out of your comfort zone! When you remove yourself from the comfort to the edge, the more things become interesting. Opportunities flow and new horizons become tantalisingly visible.
Travel to the edge of the known HR world to find the elixir of difference, relevance, meaning and value. You cannot be ignored if you are consistently creating value! There really is no other way to do this.Extinction Prevention.You cannot be ignored or become irrelevant if you are creating value Click To Tweet
If you keep an open mind to opportunities from unexpected sources, you will gain a clarity of purpose and begin to change what you do and how you do it to contribute value every day.
I am a curious, creative HR rule breaker.
Creative HR, principally combines marketing and HR; but with generous servings of inspiration from a broad spectrum of creative disciplines. That means that I regularly go cross-discipline (ad)venturing, stealing (good theft) ideas, borrowing approaches, making uncommon connections, reengineering and adapting them for a fresh take on traditional HR.
I am on a mission to help individuals and businesses get unstuck and transform from blah to cooking with gas.
The ultimate mark of success is knowing that at the end of an assignment, I leave and individual or an organisation better than I found it. The bonus is that each time I do this, I too become transformed by the experience – a little wiser and hopefully more human.
Now skeptics may dismiss this as New Age HR woo-woo and that’s OK. I am a rule breaker at heart and I believe that by challenging the status quo, we can all make changes that are valuable, meaningful and human-centric.
This is a call to action for each member of the forward thinking and acting HR community to roll up their sleeves and get on with curing the malaise of sameness and stagnation facing the HR discipline.
Join the movement of a growing band of ‘rebelutionaries’. HR folks with swagger and determination to take bold or subtle action to transform HR into a business discipline that makes and impact, remains relevant and contributes remarkable value.
You are invited to create the kind of HR you dreamt of doing. The door is open and there is a place for you on this adventure.
Don’t be under any illusion.
- There is no short cut.
- There is no quick fix.
- There is no easy hack.
The journey to do this is tough but exciting, and best done in company. Will you join me?
-Rant ends –
The Next Step
My Manifesto writing guide advises that the next step is to “flip the rant. Turn negatives into positives … Ensure that it is outward and not inward looking.” Sharon Tanton.
This is my next assignment. I will keep you up dated of my progress.
I hope you too find this uncommon approach to uncovering your purpose and writing your manifesto really helpful in your own business!
I’d love to know:
If you have ever written a manifesto, what approach helped you to get fired up and writing?
What are your favourite manifestos that inspire you?
Share in the comments.
This is the last blog post in 2016. The HR Rabbit Hole will be back on 9th January 2017 with lots more cross-discipline adventures, discoveries and practical tips to share. See you then.