Fighting the Knee Jerk Reaction

I’ve been fighting against my own knee jerk reactions lately.  Whether it is at work or at home, the knee-jerk reaction can be a compelling option when  you need to get a problem off your desk quickly.

I blame it on the constant bombardment of information.  We need quick and easy so we can move on to the next issue.  How else to explain fast food?

Kind of like fast food we have to be wary of the lure of the quick and easy solution.

In our organizations the quick and easy solution can be to throw money at the problems in our latest engagement survey. Just spend the money or give more money and our employees will be “happy” and more engaged.  But too often those solutions only mask the problem. 

Let’s say your engagement results indicate employees do not think there is enough work/life balance. The knee jerk reaction might be “lets create a work/life” program.

But will that really improve the day-to-day life of your employees? Will the knee-jerk response do anything other than put a band aid on the problem?

Fighting the Knee Jerk Reaction

In the case of work-life balance, if you put into place a brand new work/life program, will that change the deeply ingrained norm that you have to be in your seat from 8-5 every day? Probably not.

Slow down and give yourself some time.  

Instead of rushing to the solution that you think is the easiest, think instead about the underlying causes of the problem.  Then ask yourself some important questions:

1. Will my solution solve the underlying issues? In the case of work/life issues: “Will employees be comfortable utilizing these solutions?” “Will their mangers allow them to utilize the solution and will they support employees that utilize the work/life program?”

2. Is this something that the organization’s leadership believes in and promotes? Or will this be an “HR thing” that is available but no one uses?

3. Will this support the company’s mission? Will this fit into the company’s culture or if you are trying to change the culture will that change support the culture you are aiming for?

4. Is this a practical solution in terms of the business? Review your solution; can it be applied day-to-day in your company work environment? If part of your work/life program is to allow employees to work from home up to two days a week, is that practical? Do your managers know how to manage tele-commuting?

5. Spend some time to “noodleing” or baking your ideas.  Some good times to do this:  when you work out or are driving somewhere or even in the shower.  There is a reason why you get great ideas in the shower: its because you are relaxed! 

6. Take breaks from your business case. As you gather the data and crunch the numbers take a minute to really look at the data and then step away from it. Evaluate it as a harsh critic would.

What about you? What tips and techniques do you have for fighting the knee-jerk response? How do you develop solutions that are more then a Band-Aid? 

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Melissa Fairman

Melissa Fairman is the author of the blog HR Remix and has five years experience working in HR. She's super awesome and has an MBA with an HR concentration from Baldwin Wallace College and a PHR certification from the HRCI institute. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter at @HRRemix.

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