HR Leader Behavior Millennials Hate … and Killing HR Legitimacy

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Apr 28, 2017

Last week at ERE in San Diego I had a conversation with a talent-acquisition leader and customer who was just part of an acquisition and is now reporting to a new boss. As part of her transition she and her CHRO have reviewed several internal processes; one such process which was documented, and showing objective, positive results and ROI. To her surprise the new CHRO decided to cut the process. When she went back to present the results in more detail, still the same result.  

The justification was exactly what millennials hate: a fixed worldview.  

It feels a little like being Galileo, showing all the proof that the sun is at the center of the solar system, but people still rejected it. The justification: “I have experienced this process before and I know what I’m doing.” But for millennials it feels as absurd as it did for Baby Boomers and Gen Xers  when they were told to keep sending faxes and stop wasting time with computers and emails. Sure you could show them proof of speed and reliability, but some still won’t believe it!  

I use a “fixed worldview” as an analogy for the well known research done by Carol Dweck on the fixed vs. growth mindset. A fixed mindset is one in which intelligence is seen as fixed and doesn’t grow; hence you avoid challenges and never stretch people or behaviors. Fixed mindsets are often held by the people that are the most naturally talented. However many fixed mindsets lose their edge as they are paralyzed by mistakes that come along with growth and learning.

Similarly, a fixed worldview is often held by the people with the most experience. They have many reference points and consequently trust their past experience even without realizing that the world has evolved.

We need to wake up and make sure that in our quickly evolving world, our past experiences do not destroy the future legitimacy of HR. And that we are confident enough and open to people and analytics, even if they contradict our beliefs. We need to consider facts for what they are, that is the only way we will gain legitimacy.  

The HR leaders that will gain a competitive advantage are the ones that are listening to the numbers first and then to their past experience.

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