We love to cover our ass in HR. It’s actually in The HR Rule Book, page 1, first paragraph:
“Like our brothers and sisters in the Real Estate game, we all have really only one rule to live by. They live by, “Location, location, location”. In HR we live by, “Document, document, document”.
Documentation is great until it’s not!
The Washington Post reported this week that:
Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida was forced aside by the release of thousands of embarrassing emails among party officials that appeared to show coordinated efforts to help Clinton at the expense of her rivals in the Democratic primaries. That contradicted claims by the party and the Clinton campaign that the process was open and fair for her leading challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Let me start by saying this isn’t a political post. This could happen to any party, in any organization, to anyone who decides to communicate exclusively via email.
What can HR learn from the DNC email mess?
We (HR) need to start asking ourselves this one simple question: If what I’m writing right now in this email, was to be made public, could it get me in trouble or would it be embarrassing to myself, my organization or my boss?
If you answer, “Yes” to any of the above questions, stop typing, click delete, stand up, walk your butt over to whoever it was you were writing that message to! Or, pick up the phone and just have the conversation!
I think at least once a day I begin writing an email, stop, and click delete. I then either stand up or pick up the phone and have a direct conversation with the person I wanted to share this information with. There’s a time to document and there’s a time to have ‘plausible deniability’!
In HR we too often get caught up in wanting to have things in writing. You have to know there’s risk associated with getting something in writing. You now are in the loop of knowing what’s going on, and if you decide not to do anything, it’s the same as knowingly allowing something to happen or continue to happen.
The DNC would have been just fine if they would have run down to Starbucks and grabbed a cup of coffee together or picked up the phone and just talked some stuff out. But, no! Instead, let’s send thousands of emails back and forth that shows how stupid we can be!
I’m not telling you to cover up stuff. I’m telling you to not have stuff you have to cover up! Some of the best leaders I’ve worked for would send me this message in reply to some crazy email I sent them, “Call me.”
That’s really smart advice!