Monday, December 7, 2009

What if your HR Dept is like an open kitchen? Really.

Maybe I was really hungry when I posted this question on Twitter:

Does having an open kitchen at a restaurant enhance customer experience?

You can see some of the replies
here, here & here with an emphatic YES!

The bottom line is that people love restaurants that have open kitchens. It’s such a big hit. It’s gives customers a great chance to see the way food’s cooked and that could in turn enhance customer experience. Off course, it demands a certain set of standards to be maintained, like hygiene, cleanliness, quality of food & surroundings, behavior, safety precautions for having an open kitchen, deciding just how much transparency is good, etc, If going the open-kitchen way enhances customer experience to an extent where they are willing to go around and spread the good word, then wouldn’t it in turn grow the business? Obvious, isn’t it?

Now, I asked that question because I felt that the open-kitchen model would work wonders for a HR department too! By choosing to open the doors to our HR cabins or department we would help build trust, confidence, effective communication channels and not to mention a very motivated workforce. By the way, this is not just HR speak. It’s a way of improving HR life at work. This approach would also help HR connect better with employees. No? Think about it this way, the more you choose to stay closed about policies, rewards & recognition, performance reviews, etc, it’s only going to put that much more distance between HR & employees.

We believe HR department is responsible for understanding the pulse of the organization, providing information and educating the senior management on best practices. Then shouldn’t HR be initiators and become ‘Change Managers’ before campaigning for change among the managers/VP’s/CEO? I really wouldn’t buy “It’s been the Company’s culture” stand. It’s been there because no one’s questioned it. It’s been there because no one’s willing to take the initiative and invest time to build an open door HR department, since it requires you to give people in your teams the authority to take decisions (which is tied to hiring the right person). It’s possible to implement this model when HR stops being a compliance-only dept that use phrases like follow this process or check that policy. It’s possible only when you actively participate in running the business.

Understandable that
change is strange. But the HR-needs-a-seat-at-the-table jig isn’t really necessary for this change to happen or be implemented. All you need to take is three small steps. Start small. Let the effect be experienced by employees. Your brand ambassadors (employees) will sell the idea for you, by spreading the good word. It’s not going to happen if you sit around and wait for everyone to come onboard your idea-ship in one day. They’ll be the usual naysayers, pessimists and a whole lot of pushback from different departments. Take a stand. It’s time we did.

So should we then not drive towards having an open door HR department? Off course, it’s an emphatic YES from my side too. It’s obvious. It’s the right-thing to do.

Any thoughts?