My only HR tip for managers

Don’t suck!

Oh wait, that really isn’t a tip – more of a mantra I try to give my hiring managers (how’s that for great HR!).  Actually if I had to give one tip of advice to managers from the HR side of the desk I would have to say I would tell them: Be Consistent.  Let’s face it, one of the most challenging things about our job as managers is trying to get consistent performance out of our staff – but we make it difficult on ourselves by not being consistent in our actions.  Why do we do this?  Because nobody gave us silver bullets when they gave us a key to the managers office and told us good luck.  The fact of the matter is manager don’t know how to get consistent performance so they jump all over the place trying new techniques to get their staff to perform.  They take advice from their executives and try that, they take advice from their significant other and try that, they take advice from the cab driver, the bartender, the priest, from Dr. Phil – hell let’s face it they would try anything if it meant their staff would perform consistently day-after-day, week-after-week.

But that’s the problem.  Every time we try something new, we throw our staff a curve ball and they freeze.  “Ok, what the heck is he doing now – how is this going to effect me, what should I do, what shouldn’t I do, etc.”  So, instead of performing better – they actually perform worse – the constant changing causes confusion.  The managers who get the best performance over a long period of time, are those managers who are most consistent in their behavior – regardless of style.  Did you read that?  REGARDLESS OF STYLE!  In HR we care so much about style – but that’s the beauty of managers – everyone is going to have their own style – in HR, we just need to help make sure that style is not Schizophrenic.

You can be a consistent “slave driver” at the office – and you’ll actually get better performance than someone who is jumping around being the friendly manager, the understanding manager, the motivating manager, etc. Why? Because the staff knows what to expect – “Well, my boss is a slave driver, but you know what you are going to get and if you deliver he stays off your back.”  Is it the best sytle? No. Is it effective over time? Yes.  Is their a better way? Yes.   But there in lies the problem with many HR Pros – we spend way to much time trying to change adult manager behavior – a person’s personality – instead of helping them find ways to work best with who they are.  “Hey, Tim – we know you’re a slave driver, so we want to help you out with some employee relations things that will keep your staff wanting to come to work for you day-in and day-out.”    Instead, we go “Tim, you’re a slave driver and we need to change your personality of 40 years and be someone you’re not.”  How’s that working out for you?

So – My tip for all managers: Don’t Suck  Be Consistent!

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