When your world is completely upended does anything you used to do make sense anymore? That’s a question I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. We are all trying to navigate a world that looks very different from eight months ago. We are all impatient to get back to “normal.”
There is no Normal to return to.
I waved goodbye to Normal in December
For me, Normal sailed away this past December as I made the decision to move 1,000 miles (ca. 1,609 km) to Florida to start a new job in a new industry. That decision was made when it looked like 2020 would bring nothing but exciting events: warm weather, new job, new house, new places to visit and travel.
And 2020 did bring some of those exciting events but it also brought sadness. The sadness of moving away I expected, but seeing the devastating effects of this pandemic is gut-wrenching. It adds a level of stress and anxiety that I have not known in my life.
In addition to the pandemic, nightly, we are seeing demonstrations against police brutality and inequality. Many of these scenes are disturbing, but we are also seeing signs of hope and solidarity. I hope and pray that we look back on 2020 as the year that saw the start of the dismantling of systemic racism.
So, for those you “shut up and dribble” types, what does any of this have to do with Human Resources?
Should I just shut up and HR?
Nope. It’s not enough to bury our heads and act as if the external world ends when people walk through our company doors. How many of us continue to see, address or hear about people dealing with these issues at our workplaces?
- Sexual Harassment
- Lack of minorities in leadership positions
These behaviors are symptoms of the much bigger, dysfunctional systems in our world.
Our organizations exist in these dysfunctional systems and it is inevitable to see spillover into our companies.
The old systems of work (and school) evolved around a traditional society. Demographics and the modern lifestyle have moved past that:
83.1% of the United States identified as White
11.7% as African-American
6.4% as Hispanic
75.1% identified as White
12.3% African -American
12.6% African American
All data taken from Wikipedia
And how about lifestyle changes?
Today, 26% of children live in a single parent home (22% in 2000 and just 9% in 1961). 70% of moms with children under the age of 18 are in the workforce and 64% of moms with preschool-aged children work. Three-quarters of employed moms work full-time.
As our world has evolved, the traditional world of work with its traditional 8-5 expectations still persists in many organizations. Take for example the COVID-19 pandemic.
While many headlines pronounce how Google will let their employees work remote until 2021 and Twitter is not requiring employees to return at all, many employees are being forced to return to workplaces with lax safety protocols amid skyrocketing COVID-19 cases.
Despite the seemingly intractable nature of some of these problems, I believe that working together we can build better organizations. Modern, flexible organizations where people are treated like people and have the freedom to create, innovate and come to work as the people they are.
Working Together, We Can Build Better Organizations
How? I think it starts with three simple pillars:
- Leadership– Without strong, courageous leadership you can’t change existing systems or build new ones.
- Freedom: Freedom to move away from the traditional norms and expectations. Organizations and people can work together for mutual success.
- Humanity: As organizations, as leaders, as co-workers, we need to recognize the humanity in each other.
Stay tuned as I explore these topics more in-depth but just like moving past traditional HR, I’m going to move past what I’ve traditionally done on this blog — write. Of course, I’ll continue to write posts here and there but I’m also planning to start communicating with you over email and video.
I want to build a community where we can figure out, together, how to build better organizations. We can only improve our world by listening and working together.
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