Thoughts about hr and management in the real world – extra information I couldn't fit in my books!.
Last year for my 40th I went to Hawaii for a week and learned how to surf (it was great fun but really tiring on the arms!)
In the afternoons we spent a lot of time by the pool. Almost all the women were wearing small bikini’s. It didn’t matter what size or shape they were – bikinis were everywhere. Now I’m not a bikini-wearing kind of girl (I also don’t usually hang out at pools, but it was too hot to do much else).
But something strange happened to me surrounded by everyone being very comfortable in bikinis. I went out, brought a bikini and started wearing it around the pool. And while I felt self-conscious for a little while – after a time I got used to it. It never felt completely ‘me’ but it felt okay and I actually enjoyed it.
Where am I going with this you may ask?
Well if you’d asked me before I went to Hawaii if I’d be happy wearing a bikini in front of crowds of people I would have told you “hell no!!”
But because it was what everyone was doing, and they seemed quite happy with it, I ended up doing just that.
Working in HR or Learning – we’re often trying to change managers or employees mind-sets and get them to do things they might not be comfortable with (for example with the new H&S legislation – getting people to take H&S seriously, or trying to create a culture where people give each other constructive feedback, or trying to stop sexist jokes in the workplace).
To do this we tend to try and pick up when people get it wrong.
What we don’t do well is create a group of people who go out into a team or area of a business and start role modelling that behaviour ALL THE TIME. The group has to be big enough for others to see that behaviour and feel like they are the exception and they should get on board too.
Imagine you are trying to create a no blame culture so in a team of 20 people, you have 6 people who everyday talk about mistakes they’ve made, what they’ve learned and what they’re going to do differently. Would the others soon feel like they could also talk about mistakes and learning? Rather than blaming?
Or the 6 people talk about how to do each work activity safely. “I need to get something down from the top of that cupboard” then rather than jokes about standing on chairs and the H&S police coming, they say “How can we do it safely?” And go get a ladder. If they said that every time, it would soon feel like wearing a bikini.
So if you want to create a culture or mind set change in your team or business – why not think about what the ‘bikini wearing’ change is – then find a few people who will demonstrate that behaviour every single day (and I think it has to full immersion or others won’t feel the need to change. If only a couple of people had been in bikinis it wouldn’t have made me get mine on). Then see what effect it has.
If anyone has tried this – I’d love to hear what results it created!
As for that bikini of mine? I still have it tucked it away ready for the next time I’m with people who are all bikini clad!!
Angela Atkins is a best-selling author and business entrepreneur who has a passion for providing development and training for HR and people managers through the Management Bites programme Mgmtbites.com, HR Conferences www.hradvisorsconference.co.uk and other events www.elephanttraining.co.nz