132. The HR Perspective During Uncertain Times with Randy Lumia

May 28, 2020


“This is not business first. This is people first.”

The HR organization has front row seats to what’s happening inside companies these days  — from the business leaders making decisions on-the-go to the employees who are adjusting, coping, and making things work in sub-optimal conditions.

Randy Lumia on Second BreaksWhether we’re company employees or service providers to companies, HR’s point of view is worth exploring so that we can best position ourselves as industries continue to get majorly disrupted.

To help me get a sense of HR’s perspective, I’ve asked senior HR leader, Randy Lumia, to join me on the show. Randy is the COO and the People Strategy Leader at Paradise Workplace Solutions, a company that provides people strategy and communications solutions.

Randy and I talked about how the HR organization is handling the changing workplace, what employees can look to their HR organizations for, and how we can best position ourselves at work, especially as companies begin to apply various cost-cutting measures to manage the ongoing economic situation.

 
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HBR article: How to Keep Your Team Focused and Productive During Uncertain Times
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A few highlights from this conversation:

This has been probably the most impactful event on the profession of HR, perhaps since the sixties when we had the evolution of title seven and equal rights and such.

Many people call this a distraction. Many people call this a disruption. I look at this as an opportunity to refocus. And it has given HR people as well as business leaders, an opportunity to look at what’s important in the business as well as what’s important in life.

Employees are relying more on the communication coming from their employers than from the media. This isn’t right-wing vs left-wing. This just has to do with the sense of belonging and the sense of fear and the sense of uncertainty. People are equating that to their livelihood right now. Where they work, where they get their income. And they are relying on the leaders and the HR organization in businesses to communicate. Communication has never been more important than it is now because employees are just starved for information.

A symptom of distraction is more distraction.

Leaders need to practice what they call compassionate management, where you should actually seek to understand how you can be of service and benefit to employees while you’re balancing the need to keep them on task. It’s one of those things that’s easier said than done sometimes.

There’s always going to be something that is going to impact the business. That could be a pandemic as we’ve seen. It can be the death of somebody in the workforce that was unsettling. It could be a thousand things, but how you react and how you deal with these things are just as important as they are now, and they will continue to be when things like this happen in the future.

There is a lot of coaching being done and there’s no playbook. This is forcing line managers, business leaders, and HR people to develop the playbook as they go along.

Leaders are looking for those individuals that are going to be stepping to the plate, those individuals that are taking the challenges by the horns and making the most of it.

Organizations at the end of the day, if they are going to be forced to look at things like reductions or restructurings or layoffs, you’re going to want to keep your best employees. And those of your employees that have exhibited leadership characteristics during times of challenge. You want to surround yourself with problem solvers and people that are going to be willing to either go the extra mile during difficult times.

I think too many people use the word leader or leadership and they correlate it to a title. Nothing could be further from the truth. You could be an entry-level person in an organization, you can be a financial analyst, and auditor, or an IT help-desk person. You could be somebody who’s just joining an organization and you could be a leader in your role. You could have nobody reporting to you and still be a leader in your role. How would you react and interact with your peers, with your superiors and your colleagues is just as important as the job that you actually do.

There are so many articles written these days about how the workplace is going to change forever. Some of these things are going to become expectations of employees.

I talked very early on about the clash between individual values and organizational values. We’re seeing this redefinition of the workplace. Employees are going to continually assess what’s important to them and if the employer is meeting those value needs.

There will always be jobs for people to go to. And those that are going to continually educate themselves, being more focused on what’s important to them in their lives, be more proactive and more positive in the way they approach things, those are the employees or candidates that will continue to maintain or get those jobs.


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