I’m a people person by nature, so when I got into human resources 18 years ago, and later into critical internal communications, I knew I had found my calling. HR has become more complicated since then (think healthcare reform, multigenerational workforce and the impact of technology on employee communications, to name a few), but the fundamentals are the same. There is a natural “rhythm” to the relationships companies must have with employees over time, from onboarding to exit. I’ll use my time here to talk about how to manage this rhythm and these relationships so they are productive, mutually beneficial and human.
When I joined the Human Resources profession as a benefits and payroll administrator, the company I worked for had 125 employees and I was the entire HR department. As the company grew, we worked hard to maintain a close, “one team” atmosphere. Many call it employee engagement, but it really goes back to rhythm.
We have to care about our employees as people and try to understand what matters to them as they progress through their careers and their work for the organization. We need to develop two-way dialogues at all levels instead of simply pushing information out. If we want our employees to be well rounded, happy and working to their full potential, we must create a culture that allows them to thrive.
In leading companies today, the rhythm of relationships with employees is established during onboarding. The rhythm continues on as managers present new directions to employees and illustrate for them how they can help themselves and the organization grow.
When it comes to change, the depth of our relationships with employees becomes all-important. Change tests our relationships with employees. If there is mutual trust, it becomes much easier to introduce bold new concepts, changing business plans, and more complex work to our people. So the initial focus must be on the relationship and the company’s investment in the relationship.
If we’re smart we will invest early in our people to make sure they know as much as possible about the company and the business that we’re in. As time goes by, introducing new plans becomes part of the rhythm of the relationship, but only if you’ve established that exchange as a norm from the beginning.