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Tailor Made HR


In discussing talent, we often speak in terms of “a good fit”. At times, we look for “the perfect fit” which, of course, rarely exists. I don’t the term “good fit” for two reasons: 1) it may decrease our objectivity in the interview process since we have such a specific idea of who “fits” a role, and 2) it sometimes gets overused to cover up the real reason(s) someone is not selected, whether for legitimate reasons difficult to articulate, or for discriminatory ones.


As a best practice, keeping in mind “the right fit” has some value. The challenge is determining the components, qualities, skills, and general vibe that go into that which a lot of the time is a moving target. Because of that, I prefer to think of this as a “custom fit”. At a specific point in time, what is most needed and of most urgency may be different than what was needed five years ago when the position was last filled. And custom fit doesn’t apply just to recruiting, selection, and/or retention. It also applies to an HR practitioner’s approach to relationships within the workplace.


There’s a ton of nuance to building relationships with other humans. We all have distinct quirks, strengths, fears, methods, preferences, and personalities. Each of us is custom, or tailored made if you will. Because of that, how we deal with each other is not a blanket “one size fits all”. Tailoring our style to the individual helps us “get there with them”. It doesn’t guarantee success but it enhances our chances.


Developing a tailored method as we advise and make recommendations doesn’t mean we ignore best practices, policies, and/or procedures! Those are woven throughout and applied in the way it makes the most sense for the specific situation. We keep what we’ve done in the past in mind, but we are not held hostage by precedent. Did I just hear a loud, collective GASP 😲?


What do I mean? Sometimes, the precedent:


  • Was not the best course of action. For example, if a leader has the tendency to wait too long to address a performance deficiency, this doesn’t mean we recommend they continue to do that. Coaching should happen timely and consistently. Doing something wrong before is no reason to continue the same pattern.

  • Is so out of the ordinary that there is no point in trying to replicate sameness. I am not going to worry about setting precedent when helping one employee who had a life changing tragedy of a tornado demolishing their house and seriously injuring the employee along with a minor child. Helping them doesn’t mean that we have to help everyone who has damage to their home, for example. Sure, the next time the same or very similar event happens, we should look at doing the same thing. What’s the likelihood of the same set of facts and circumstances?

  • Doesn’t make sense currently. This could be due to financial reasons, lack of resources, or external reasons For example, we learned to shift during the spring of 2020. Organizations that might have hosted weekly group outings in November 2019 were not doing the same thing June 2020.

  • Can be set aside with appropriate approvals. One way to ensure room for discretion in the interpretation of policies and procedures, is how we craft them. Most, beyond those covering legal requirements, should be drafted in a way that has flexibility and allow a high level organization representative to make exceptions as needed. There’s a lot of grey in dealing with situations. A nuanced approach is usually best.


I have found that the more individualized my approach, the more approachable I am. If my goal is to “get there with” my team, I have to be included.


What are other ways we are unnecessarily held hostage by precedent?



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