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Hard Candy


Photo Credit: Brad Montgomery, Flickr

Photo Credit: Brad Montgomery, Flickr

One of my cousins came up for a visit recently.  This was her first time in Toronto.  One of my sisters joined her, making this like a family reunion of sorts.

I don’t remember the last time the three of us were together, in the same room, at the same time.  It was likely at least ten years ago, and possibly closer to twenty.  I was looking forward to their trip for a long time.  I have a small family and they are far away.  Reunions are few and far between.

With that much gap in our seeing of each other, we spent a lot of time reminiscing. We’ve lost many of our senior relatives in recent years and it was fun to remember some of them.

When you talk about people who are no longer here, you are essentially talking about the time periods when they existed—the politics, the trends, the fashion and the food.

People of my grandparent’s era were significantly older in thought, in dress style, and in home outfitting in comparison to today’s grandparents.   This really came true for me a few years ago when I became a great aunt for the first time.  I loved my own great aunts dearly, but they were a part of the blue rinse set, wore their Sunday best to go to the grocery store, and I can’t imagine them doing the things I do today, even at their hippest moments.

My Grandma Lile, the grandmother my cousin, sister and I have in common, was the queen of hard candy.  She had this beautiful glass dish with a lid on it, which I inherited when she died, but have never used.  I keep it for the memories.  Grandma Lile made sure that glass dish was full of Brach’s butterscotch candies, red hots, rootbeer barrels, and peppermints.  The candy was always fresh in that dish, reflecting her desire to have something special around when her grandchildren visited.  My cousin thought it was a real hoot when I pulled out that dish to show to her.

Thinking about human resources, I wonder how many dishes of hard candy we have sitting out there in use.  I’m not talking about the candy dishes located in countless cubicles of everyday HR folk, you know, the ones that you put out with your leftover Halloween candy, to entice people in, to trust you, like you’re the witch in Hansel and Gretel, so that you can somehow entrap them and measure their fingers.  Those candy dishes are perfectly fine.

Instead, I’m talking about really old-fashioned people-related policies and procedures that sound nice in theory but are really quite irrelevant in today’s world, or potentially harmful to employee experience.

Walking someone out on the day they quit.

Performance reviews with ratings from 1-10 on attitude and attendance.

Traditional benefits.

Bureaucratic attendance management practices.

Paper-based job application forms.

I suppose all of these had good purpose, way back when, but now they feel like a dish of hard candy.

What is your organization’s hard candy?  If it isn’t serving the right purpose, throw it out.

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