The H in HR stands for “human”
In previous jobs, I worked in healthcare. We were always working to improve our processes because let’s face it, lives were at stake. In HR we also constantly work to improve our processes because let’s face it, lives are at stake there too. The H in HR stands for “human,” after all.
In these times of change, we are finding that our workforce, our humans, are finding challenges with discovering their new normal.
Are we coming back to the office full time? Maybe we’ll stagger our days in the office so that we can socially distance from each other, creating something of a hybrid office/remote worker. Others will continue to work completely from their remote sites.
We need to also consider how this impacts people personally. Are there young children at home? Or elderly parents that require care? Or maybe they live alone. How do we balance those considerations with the needs of your business and your customers?
Engagement is important
In harkening back to my time in healthcare, I remembered a tool that we used for “continuous improvement.” It’s a cycle that helps healthcare teams create ways to improve services to patients. It is also a good framework for addressing performance and change with our teams in the business world. It’s called “PDCA,” or, “Plan, Do, Check, Adjust.”
Before we talk about PDCA, let’s think for a moment about the word “engagement.” It has several definitions. It could refer to the military, in which “engagement” means a “hostile encounter,” according to Meriam-Webster. Alternatively, it could also mean an engagement of the marital nature, that of “emotional involvement and commitment.”
So, how do we take the hostile implication out of the word engagement and replace it with one that involves emotional commitment?
To get team members to commit to our business, we need to commit to our team members too, right?
Continuous improvement with “Plan, Do, Check, Adjust
Let’s go back to the PDCA framework, keeping in mind that we don’t need to wait for a pandemic to use this tool.
First, we “Plan.”
Talk with your team members. Discuss any changes that you anticipate. Then, stop talking. This is the part where we listen. Listen to what is happening in their life. Then collaborate to balance that with what your business needs. Create a schedule, a plan, a new normal.
Then, we “Do.”
This is the implementation phase when the plan is put into place. This is the test to see if what you planned works.
Part of the plan needs to include how often that we’re going to check in with each other. These check-ins are known as “Check” in the Continuous Improvement process. How is the Plan working? Does anything need to be changed?
If anything does need to change, we pivot and “Adjust.” Go back to the Plan and make the necessary changes. Sometimes additional accommodations are possible, sometimes your team member will need to make an accommodation. We want to make these comfortable conversations, as opposed to confrontations. Once the new Plan is agreed upon, the process begins again.
Imagine, if you will, that the letters P – D – C – A are in a circle with arrows moving in both directions. It is a continuous process that never ends. If one challenge resolves, another may reveal itself and the process begins yet again.
Keeping your team members engaged in their work can be a challenge in these constantly changing times. We don’t know what our new normal is going to look like. However, partnering with our team members to continuously plan, implement, meet at regular intervals, and pivot to adjust can be a positive way to meet that challenge.
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