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Get There with You

(Be consistent, Stay Informed, Think of Others)

A common struggle HR professionals face is how to change the perception that their role is primarily tactical and instead being viewed as strategic. The goal is to “get a seat at the table” or “become a strategic business partner”. It took me a long time, and some frustrating, cringe worthy exchanges with managers to define what that means for me personally in ways that would help me embody what strategic looks like in practical ways. Out of my frustrations was born my philosophy of “Get There with You”.

A recurring example of a frustrating, cringe worthy exchange went like this:


It is December 12th, the last day of our two week open enrollment period for the 1/1 plan year. I sent benefits packets to the employees’ homes, emailed their managers, posted on the announcement bulletin boards, and I still have some stragglers from 3rd shift. I’ve asked and asked the manager to make sure the employees returned the forms on time. The manager (we will call them Chris) has only responded “I told them to get them to you but some of them have questions” multiple times.

No one from 3rd shift has contacted me with their questions. My regular hours are 8am to 4:30pm but I usually arrive a little early to get my day started. Since this is the last day, I decide to arrive at 7:15am since the shift ends at 7am and I know the manager leaves around that time. I make my way to the shop floor to find the manager and find them as they were leaving. I stop Chris to ask them about the missing information.

ME: Hey Chris. Glad I caught you. I didn’t get the missing benefits forms I need for open enrollment.

CHRIS: (looking at me annoyed) I guess they don’t want benefits then? I am not sure what you expect me to do about it.

ME: Did you remind them?

CHRIS: (trying to walk past me) Look, I did and I really have to get home. I have another long night ahead. You’re not the only one who has work to do around here. Don’t you know we have to get the ABC Company order out by the 14th? That’s what I’ve been doing while all you do is send emails.

ME: (surprised Pikachu face) Look, all I know is they have to return these forms. It’s mandatory I have them on file. Please talk to them and have them return them before they leave tomorrow.

CHRIS: If it’s so important, why don’t you tell them yourself! We are here all night.

Chris walks away and I still don’t have my forms.

I would love to claim this is a mostly hypothetical, exaggerated situation. However, if I am honest with myself, I would have to say this is closer to how I handled these situations early on in my career. My perspective was compliance based (“it’s mandatory I have them…”) and very much focused on what I needed to get accomplished versus how I should collaborate and seek solutions.

With the “Get There with You” approach, many of my actions would have been different. Some actions I could have taken include:

  • After not receiving a response in early communications, I could have solicited ideas from Chris on how to best obtain this information. I would have likely found out how busy they were. (Stay Informed and Think of Others)

  • Since Chris mentioned several employees had questions, I could have asked them to provide a good time during the shift when I could stop by to answer those questions. I should have adjusted my schedule to what worked for them. (Think of Others).

  • Developing a rollout strategy that keeps operations and their specific schedules in mind would help me with my results (Be Consistent). Strategy is not only about high level projects and initiatives, but also about doing things the least inconvenient way possible.

“Get There with You” is essentially working alongside others in order to make things happen. It is less telling and more collaborating towards each other’s goals for the betterment of the organization and its employees.

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