Seeing In The Shadows

Our eyes are quite incredible in terms of the range of ability they have to see things.

As I am learning in photography, the camera can capture only a portion of that information. In order to make some photographs, a photographer combines images of different exposures. The result is sometimes referred to as a High Dynamic Range (HDR) photograph. A full range of light and colors make it to the final product.

The images on the right are combined to create the HDR view on the left.

As HR pros, we are accountable for “seeing” the full dynamic range of our organization. Besides the good practice of management by walking around, we use surveys, pulse checks, and cafeteria discussions to keep our picture accurate.

Most importantly, we have to be equally available to the diversity of the workforce, and here is where the challenge is. I am not by nature the kind of person who goes seeking conversation with people. It takes a real effort for me to get out of my office and go seek out opinions and ideas from others. As difficult as it is, this is something I have learned to do over the years. My own introversion has also led me into the shadows, seeking opinions and input from employees who generally don’t speak up because they, too, are introverts. As a result, I am able to frequently put together a more complete picture of the organization I am working with.

Can you see in the shadows of your organization? Are you looking there? Are you collecting data from only the bright lights and squeaky wheels, or are you getting enough information to build a good composite view of what’s going on? Don’t forget to talk with the quiet ones. They can bring out some detail from the shadows.


5 Responses to Seeing In The Shadows

  1. Just stumbled upon your site from your LinkedIn! It is so good to see you sharing your knowledge. I love this piece as it combines two things I love: photography and people. What a great way to show how valuable those seemingly hidden people can be.

  2. it is unfortunate that the workplace hasn’t moved closer to democratization. we have enough trouble pushing meaningful information out TO the workforce (in the spirit of transparency and knowledge-sharing) let alone pulling meaningful information FROM the workforce. in fact, we suck at this. surveys? blah blah blah. old, tired, static. thanks, Tim, for waving the banner – and encouraging us to hear ALL voices…

    • Thanks for your thoughts on this, Charlie. We sometimes try and bring diverse input and want to give it a single value. “We have 82.6% engagement.” What does that really tell you?
      You have to have conversations, not surveys.

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