Doesn't it seem that everywhere you turn these days you face a bombardment of professional how-to advice from self-proclaimed “experts”? Especially in Human Resources these people assure you that they understand your problems, and that they have the right solutions for you and your business. All you need do is read a book, attend a webinar or better yet contract for their consulting services.
Sounds like a diet pill, doesn’t it? Simple and quick.
Promises of such quick fixes and overnight solutions cover every aspect of our business and personal lives. Pick an issue and the answer is out there. Someone can help us, and that someone is our “answer man.” We only have to listen, watch or read whatever it is that they’re offering. For a fee, of course.
You can’t escape the TV infomercials, the newspaper advertisements, magazine articles or even blogs and social media sites without an endless flow of subject matter gurus telling you that they have the answer you need.
- “Guaranteed to quadruple sales within twelve months”
- “Maximizes HR effectiveness and value through the use of . . .”
- “Keeping Leadership Talent Engaged”
- “Designing Employee Policies for an International Workforce”
- “The Five Causes of Low Morale – and how to avoid them”
- "Our products, services and advice are certified, hospital-tested, government sponsored"
- Etc, etc, etc
You get the point.
Now, here’s the but . . . .
If that’s the case, that the answer is out there – and for a price waiting for you - why do we continue to face the same problems over and over again? Why are managers still making poor decisions, wasting money and creating employee morale screw-ups from dawn to dusk? Why are the business headlines constantly reporting litigation over wrongful or illegal management behavior, or the dubious business decisions that send companies spiraling into financial trouble?
Isn’t anyone paying attention to the answer man? Or is the advice simply a load of horse manure? Are these experts really just spouting head-game theories and viewing business problems from an academic vs. practical viewpoint? Are they rehashing old methodologies with new language and passing off their solutions as "new" thinking?
Whichever it is, these “I have the solution” messages never seem to stop. Like a constant propaganda campaign radio-beamed across the border – the broadcast light is always on. The buzz phrases may change from time to time, but our appetite for quick fixes doesn’t seem to ever diminish.
My theory or yours?
If the “experts” do have the answers - color me skeptical - we need to ask why their message is so often ignored. Several scenarios are possible:
- Subject matter authorities often speak over our heads, using buzz phrases and $100 words
- Reading or listening to this stuff is hard work; the text is dry, boring and not often engaging
- Too much of the advice is contradictory to what you read / heard already – so who is right?
- Academics often lack credibility in the real world; they “just don’t get it”
- Folks aren't paying attention, on account of their own ingrained biases and personal agendas
Whatever the reason, the drumbeat of advice, whether new or traditional, is not being absorbed and acted upon – because the problems are still there.
Therefore . . . .
I’m struck by the merry-go-round aspect of constant advice without real solutions. We see a continuous need to enlighten people and businesses on how to be effective, but it’s a need that never seems to end.
Maybe the analogy to a diet holds some truth; consider how many books are out there on that subject – yet up to 30% of the population remains obese.
There’s an old saying, that if you build a better mousetrap, the world will make a path to your door. If common sense and up-to-date technical knowledge point the way to a better tomorrow, why do so many companies and their leaders stay in the dumb zone?
If the cure is out there, why is the patient still sick?
I’m thinking that the message is wrong, the audience isn’t listening, or perhaps we’re all being scammed by re-packaged “new” thinking.
Which is it?
Chuck Csizmar CCP is founder and Principal of CMC Compensation Group, providing global compensation consulting services to a wide variety of industries and non-profit organizations. He is also associated with several HR Consulting firms as a contributing consultant. Chuck is a broad based subject matter expert with a specialty in international and expatriate compensation. He lives in Central Florida (near The Mouse) and enjoys growing fruit and managing (?) a clowder of cats.
Creative Commons image, "Salesman," by Chris Fithall