Hope, Fear, and HR Initiatives

HR initiatives bring about a very special kind of hope and fear.

Hope comes in the form of inflated expectations. Fear comes in the form of the unknown. Both have a disproportionate impact on the success of your HR initiatives.

When the organization gets wind of your latest and greatest HR idea, two things happen:

First, there is a percentage of people who are desperate to benefit from the project NOW. They want all of the promised changes done yesterday, and they have an inflated expectation of exactly when and how everything will be done. They may even assign characteristics to the initiative that were never part of the plan because they so desperately want things to improve!

Second (or simultaneously), your announcement is met with FEAR by a percentage of people because the change you are selling presents a challenge to their ability to survive in the workplace. It may not feel like a big deal to YOU, but every HR initiative challenges people’s sense of safety and belonging. People worry that they may not be able to make the leap; they are challenged by the fact that they have to learn something outside their comfort zone, and that something involves the very nature of their work.

HR, at its best, works tirelessly to unleash the talent of the people in its organization.

This means being aware of the hope AND fear that comes along with every single initiative you aim to put into place. It means being careful about your communications, and taking into account the destabilizing nature of your announcements.

More than anything, it means being conscious of the impact even the slightest HR related change has on the people in your organization.

There’s probably no such thing as an HR initiative that is “no big deal”. Always keep the hope and fear that comes with each in mind when crafting your plans.


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