“I don’t know about you, but most of my future is ahead of me,” Denny Crum, long-time college basketball coach, once said. Even though everyone has a future to consider, Human Resources specialists spend a lot of time thinking about future.
We act as a resource to help our companies, employees, and ourselves build a better and brighter future.
After 40 years of training and consulting, there are three big lessons I believe every Human Resources team should take to heart to make your impact on the future even more meaningful.
Bless Over Impress
We want to do our very best at building these bright futures. We worry about how our seminars will go and if we’re doing a good job. I’ve felt this too. Stephen Covey and I started the Covey Leadership Centre in the 1980s. Early on, I had a big presentation for my supervisors and was really nervous about how it’d go. After I finished, Stephen took me to dinner to give me some feedback. He told me, “You’re a good teacher and trainer. You reach people well, but I have some advice. Seek to bless, not impress.”
I realised that when we aim to impress people our focus is on ourselves. We worry more about the image we portray than the message. Then, when we make a mistake, we think, “Oh no! Did they see that? What did they think of me? Other people don’t make that kind of mistake!” And we start a cycle of self-guessing. We become self-conscious. Then, we end up making more mistakes.
But, when our focus is to bless others, our perspective changes. When we believe our information improves people’s lives and we make a mistake, it’s easier to move on. We think, “Huh? That didn’t work for them. Let me try something else. Let me make sure we’re connecting and understanding.”
When we focus on others, we live out the principle Start with Heart from Crucial Conversations®. The motives are about blessing and helping others, not about me.
Become the Person You’re Training Others To Be
You’re training others to do more than use communication skills and think about influence. You’re training them to become more effective people driven by mutual purpose (not self-purpose at the expense of others).
We don’t talk about it much in business, but being an HR specialist is really about love. As you train people in your organisation, you teach the skills of loving — to look for mutual purpose first.
At first, mutual purpose is transactional. You think, “In this situation, what aims and goals do we have in common?” But the more you use these skills, consider mutual purpose, and examine your motives, the more relational mutual purpose becomes. You look for ways to interact with others because you want them to reach their goals.
Eventually, mutual purpose can even become your world view. You care about others and want them to succeed — no matter who they are or where they live. Mutual purpose becomes a way of life and way to see the world. I call it love (but “mutual purpose” sounds a little more professional).
As you become the person you’re training others to be, something transforms you from a good HR specialist to a great HR specialist.
The difference? A great HR specialist trains with conviction. They know in their heart that what they have will help others. Their own lives have been improved by these skills. So, they believe it can better the lives of the people around them.
But rest assured, becoming this others-focused person doesn’t mean being perfect — it means admitting when you’re not. You apologise when you make a mistake. You let others know that you’re still working on your skills. You admit that you don’t always do everything well.
In doing so, you model a person who’s becoming more effective than they were before. You don’t have to “be perfect”. You just have to “be trying”.
Use Stories to Touch People’s Minds and Hearts
The more you work to grow, the better you’ll be able to advise people, answer their questions, and share your stories. By telling heartfelt stories, people not only get the idea, but they invest emotionally. They associate your stories with their own feelings. Then, their emotional connection validates the point you’re making.
Sure, you can tell stories you’ve heard from others, but your personal experience enriches the effect. As you work and live with these skills, you collect stories of your own. Then, you can use them in a powerful way that impacts people to their core.
So what about your future?
Before you run your next seminar or organise another training session, consider your personal journey.
Do you seek to bless others or are you too worried about what they think about you? Do you strive for mutual purpose in your working and personal relationships? If so, how can you share your experiences with others?
John Schaar says, “The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. The paths to it are not found, but made.” Abraham Lincoln claimed, “The best way to predict your future is to create your future.”
What future are you creating?