A Cup of Ice

Recently I attended the Ohio HR Conference, HR Rocks!!  As part of the planning committee, it was a great experience for many reasons.

One reason it was so great was that we told attendees they could wear jeans. Amazing how something so simple could set the tone for the week. Our committee wore tie-dye all week with our jeans and invited people to relax in our lounge filled with lava lamps, candles and incense – at an HR Conference!

One experience last week has stuck with me the most . . .

During lunch on Thursday, our 770+ attendees and our 160+ resource partners all gathered to savor the incredible Fajita Bar.  Plates were loaded beyond capacity and hands were full as people approached a separate beverage station to grab a glass of water, lemonade or ice tea. The Kalahari staff were so amazing the whole week – especially here. But, even as much as they tried, the line continued to grow and grow and grow.

Before the week started, I told my Committee that I wanted to set a new expectation for us and the Conference attendees. I wanted us to serve them in ways they hadn’t experienced at a conference before. To make sure I didn’t fall into the classic HR trap of – just tell people what you expect and they’ll do it – I made sure to model this behavior.

So, I jumped in the front of the beverage line and started greeting everyone as they came up and handed them a glass full of ice.  Then, the phenomenal team of Joan, Sonja and Keysha poured everyone’s liquid of choice and made sure to get more glasses to keep up with the demand.  After stepping in, you started to hear laughing, see big smiles and positive comments from everyone instead of typical frustration with having to wait on service.

People said, “Wow, service with a smile!” I couldn’t resist but responding with, “Better than service with a scowl, huh?” It was the most rewarding 1/2 hours of the entire conference. We were able to serve our guests so that they could enjoy their lunch. Also, the staff from Kalahari saw that their work added immense value by meeting a simple need for others.

It’s time for HR to shift to a new approach.  Instead of trying to mandate policies, force conformity and compliance at all costs, or be the function that polices vs. leads – we need to MODEL THE BEHAVIOR WE EXPECT FROM OTHERS.

We can’t keep expecting change to magically happen because we’ve come up with the next great “best practice.” Model behavior. It’s that simple.

To prove that point, Sonja, Joan, Keysha and I became tight. The rest of the week, I sought them out and they did likewise. I heard they even talked about the tall guy in the tie-dye shirt who jumped into help without asking if it was okay. They were some of the final hugs at the end of the week and I’m sure they will continue to be amazing.

Where can you change and model what you’d like to see? Try something this week and you’ll be astonished at the results!

About the Author

Steve Browne

Steve Browne is the ultimate connector and social media guidance counselor and also works in the trenches of Human Resources. Steve is the Executive Director of HR for LaRosa’s. He has responsibilities for the strategic direction of over 1400 employees. In his spare time, he is active in Ohio SHRM and runs a subscriber-based newsletter called HR Net. Connect with Steve on Twitter as @sbrownehr and on LinkedIn.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *