When did we forget?

Across most interactions with business and organisations that we come into contact with, we’re given some sort of designation. It’s different to a job title or a career in something. You don’t mind being designated a fighter jet pilot or a police officer or a Chief Executive Officer. But when you walk into a shop you’re called a customer. In a hotel you’re a guest. At the local club you’re a member. At the betting shop you’re a punter. And actually, that’s all fine. It helps to define the relationship of us vs them. You know, the people serving us.

Those people serving us, they have designations too. Staff. Workforce. Resources. Personnel. In some organisations and companies they’re lucky enough to be called ‘People’. But only by a select few. When you start to delve a bit deeper into various functions in an organisation they lose that title. HR starts to call them ‘Staff’. Recruitment starts to call them ‘Candidates’. Learning and Development starts to call them ‘Delegates’. Operations call them ‘Numbers’. Finance call them ‘Liabilities’. Ok that’s unkind, but you get what I’m saying.

About a year ago, I stopped doing this. People are people. At work you don’t stop being a person. Although you’d think that’s what happened. Policies start to dictate ‘your behaviour’. processes forget we’re human by nature and won’t always follow the prescribed way of doing things. Some people at work rely on processes and policies to make themselves feel important. They try to help others by enforcing the way it has been decreed to be done. They forget the people they’re helping are trying to live their lives, and a big part of that is being alive at work.

It’s part of my job as an L&Der to respect everyone and listen to all discussions, input, conversations and feedback. I don’t accept that though. I’m at work to do a job, and I do it well. But in working with others, I see them as people first. That has to be the first port of call for all the work we do as HR professionals. A lot of people speak up about the irony of how Human Resources is now less about Human and more about Operations.

We’re in this role because we are meant to believe in the power of people to do things that make organisational life a success. When we start designating them as something other than people, we immediately stop achieving this goal, and become focused on processes and procedures. Not once will you ever see a journal article or white paper published that highlights the success of X process in the making a business successful. It’s always a person or team who made it happen.

I’m Sukh Pabial, nice to meet you.

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Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

One thought on “When did we forget?”

  1. Well said, Sukh. I’m always glad to hear your blogs, because I find a sense of kindred-ness in them.
    I would take it a step further and suggest that the L&D agenda should include a career management element where people’s aspirations are discussed openly, explicitly and honestly (not in the context of their appraisal or what they organisation assumes they want to do or need to do) to motivate, engage and refresh the workforce. And – ultimately, make the organisation more successful.
    (I actually just wrote a blog about it yesterday that I will publish on the weekend…)
    Thanks again!

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