HR: Nutritionist or Plastic Surgeon?

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about a supervisor named Tina and her employee, Judy. She was ready to get rid of Judy when I sort of explained that she needed to work on Judy’s success before she assure her failure.

Then, the other night as I was pondering the number of calories I have failed to offset with effective workouts in the last few months, I realize that many of my customers over the years have expected me to be a surgeon. They want me to remove the problem, do a little “team liposuction” to get rid of unwanted fat. Sometimes they even want me to take a little from one place and put it somewhere else (usually someone else’s team, but that’s a whole other post). I’ve done the cutting. I’ve met with surviving members to tell them that the team will be all right, we just needed to remove this problem.

But I really prefer to coach the coach. To help supervisors first plot a path to healthy, contributing employees. To be the nutritionist. I know, for example, how to manage this calorie offset problem I have, but wouldn’t it be a whole lot easier to just remove this belly fat? They can do that right? Because eating right and exercising is hard work.

But not really. It takes the same effort to eat a healthy meal as an unhealthy one. Almost any restaurant or fast food place you go to, there are choices that will satisfy you, will meet your actual nutrition needs, and not over-deliver in total calories or fat. It’s just that if you are trying to lose weight, it feels less satisfying or less fun.

The great team leaders I’ve worked with are like expert nutritionists. They know the truth about employee development and success. They are disciplined and dedicated to doing the right thing. Their first line of defense is never discipline or threat of dismissal. They assume the employee wants to succeed, and they know that the employee’s success is their success. Those are the team leaders I want to be behind to support the success of the business. That’s why I have to be a nutritionist too.

I can perform surgery when I have to. I’ve cut more dead weight than I care to remember. But I’ve witnessed and participated in some great success stories, and that’s why I love HR.

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