CEO for a Day: Unconventional HR

Women of  HR were asked, “If you were CEO for a day, what would (or did) you focus on to improve an organization's productivity, employee engagement or ability to recruit?”  This is the second post in the series of responses.

If I had the opportunity to be the CEO for a day, I'd tell the entire organization to forget everything they know, have experienced or have been told about Human Resources.  We’re going to focus on one thing — making work better!  Making the employment experience what it's supposed to be: mutually beneficial.  

We spend more time at work than we do anywhere else.  I have to believe that all organizations aspire to have people who want to come to work and to have their leadership embrace the effort it takes to make that happen.  Yes, it's a huge undertaking that would be time consuming, frustrating and require baby steps that focus on a consistent message which is simply, to make work better.  I believe it's possible and after all, this is my story!

So what does it mean to make work better?

It means we'd start by focusing on relationships — starting with one of the most important ones: managers and their teams.  Managers who are not effective communicators or who may be uncomfortable confronting tough issues or being transparent will learn how to communicate effectively and productively.  Since building good relationships obviously requires multiple people to work well together, employees will also learn how to be comfortable handling feedback and exchanging ideas with their managers and colleagues.  All of this will be done face to face or via video chat.  How many times have you heard someone say, “I didn't like the tone of that email.”  How many times have you had to run interference between a manager and a team member because of a preventable miscommunication that spiraled out of control?

We're going to eliminate the annual performance review process completely!

Don't worry, we'll have ways to manage performance.  We'll focus on goals and we'll start Feedback Sessions that will be more frequent, yet brief.  Managers and teams will compare notes on the status of their goals, brainstorm about tools that address their individual growth areas, set new goals and provide a clear understanding of how the team's success fits into the progress of the company.  Yes, we need to know what needs to be said for effective feedback but it's even more important to know “how” things need to be said.

We're going to step up to the pla

te and hit a line drive with the empathy bat!

Employees and managers will do deep dives into understanding each others jobs.  Employees will recognize what it takes for their managers to be successful and vice versa.  Doesn't it make a difference to work on a project when you know why the project is important and what the direct relevance that your success has on the goals of the company?  It makes the difference between wanting to come to work and not wanting to come to work.

We're going to gut the employee manual and focus on simplicity and common sense! 

We'll keep the legal stuff in there but we're going to remove some of the dumbest employment policies I've ever seen — the ones that border on being inhuman — like telling people how many bereavement days they get based on how the company defines particular family members.  I'll never forget — I once worked with a young man whose parents were killed when he was a baby and he was raised by his aunt.  But because his aunt was not defined as an “immediate family member” in the handbook, this man had to take most of his vacation time so he could grieve and make the necessary burial arrangements.  You get the point.  I digress.

Last but definitely not least.  Everyone will leave their egos at the door.

Yes, everyone.  Teams can't be built and folks can't collaborate when someone is always vying for the spotlight.  Those who can't handle that can make a graceful exit.  I've always said that people don't leave bad companies, they leave bad managers.  And you can take that to the bank.  Do you think someone who is unhappy at work is going to be helpful and friendly with coworkers and customers?  That would be a resounding “no.”

When we improve our internal relationships, teach folks how to foster those relationships, treat people like adults and work in ways that are progressive and unconventional (think anti-Corporate America) everything else will fall into place — like client satisfaction and profitability.  Wow, what a concept.

Happy to hear your thoughts.

Photo credit: UnconventionalHR

About the author: Kimberly Roden is an HR pro turned consultant and the founder of Unconventional HR.  She has 25 years of progressive experience as a strategic HR and business leader.  Her hands-on and innovative approach allows her to create and deliver HR solutions to meet business challenges and needs by managing human capital, talent acquisition and technology.


About the Author

Kimberly Patterson

Kimberly Patterson is the founder of Unconventional HR. An HR pro turned consultant, she has 25 years of progressive experience as a strategic HR and business leader in a variety of industries. Her hands-on and innovative approach allows her to create and deliver HR solutions to meet business challenges and needs by managing human capital, talent acquisition and technology. Connect with her on Twitter at, or at

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