The Least Important Issue is Still Important to Someone

I like to build things. I like to improve upon what we know and make things better. More productive, more safe, more reliable. As an engineer, I learned early on that you don’t make equipment mods without talking to the operators. And I learned that they were picky about the smallest things.

So when I started to spend more time in HR, I shouldn’t have been surprised, really, about the kind of things I now had to spend time on. Things I was pretty sure would not make the business better, more productive, or safer. We all have to make decisions that can impact our employees, but we also get dragged into things that suck time and life energy away. When asked recently about the least favorite things I’ve had to do as a generalist, it was not hard to come up with the list. And by least favorite, I mean things that add little or no value. I don’t enjoy terminations, but they are in a whole different ballpark.

I’m talking about:

  • Dealing with theft of lunch items from the common use fridge
  • Creating rules about who parks in the United Way parking spot when the current holder is on vacation
  • Going through printer records with the IT guy to figure out who printed out the nudie picture
  • Adding up the long distance call records for an employee during shift hours
  • Combing through security video to prove an employee was checking into the building on his way out to support his claimed hours
  • Dealing with just about any clothing-related complaint

As unimportant as some of these issues were, they were important to someone at the time. The hungry employee. The  United Way contest second-place winner. The employee who discovered the picture on the printer and was offended.

Every once in a while, we have the opportunity to impact the business in a big way, but there are always messes to clean up, and somebody’s gotta do it.

In my next life, I want to work in an above average organization, with only above average humans to resource. Or maybe next time around I’ll stick with the machines. What do you think?

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