One of life’s conundrums is the choice of when to do something for someone and when to teach them to do it for themselves. This is an age old struggle between parents and children, teachers and students, managers and employees and the Human Resources team and our internal customers. We all want to help those in need whether it’s a child struggling to open a heavy door or an employee who needs a quick answer. But are we really “helping” when we constantly rush in to be the hero or are we really fueling a need within ourselves? Might it not actually be better to teach someone how to be self-sufficient and then step back and out of the way? This would allow you to make a greater and more broad reaching impact.
Especially for those of us in HR who, generally, are in this function because we enjoy helping others, we might want to take a look at how to more effectively “help” others in the organization. It would be beneficial to have a plan when someone comes to you with a problem. A way to identify whether this is a crisis and an immediate need or an opportunity to teach someone to be able to do it for themselves.
Urgent or Immediate needs
HR gets bombarded daily with immediate needs or at least needs that the internal customer thinks are immediate needs. A few examples of actual immediate needs: Someone has fallen and you need to call 911, someone is making credible threats and needs to be escorted out of the building, access to systems need to be shut down due to an involuntary termination for cause. These are the types of needs that you will always handle and are probably not teachable, necessarily, to someone else.
Important needs are those that are important but not urgent. Examples might be a question on an incentive plan and how it works or an update on a particular position you are hiring for. Some critical needs can lend themselves to establishing SOP’s, Standard Operating Procedures. Requisitions reports can be created and distributed so that managers can check statuses of their openings. Webinars can be held to explain the nuances of the incentive plans.
Routine needs are those that someone will call you for every time they need the answer. Someone has an address change, or a title change or a change in the car reimbursement program. Routine needs are wonderful teaching opportunities. Offer to walk the person through the steps needed and then establish the SOP’s, standard operating procedures, and let them know where to access them.
Occasionally, you run into those people, or they hunt you down, with on-going, what we will call, un-needs. This is the desire to have someone listen to them by creating a perceived need. In these situations, the best thing to do is to politely remind the person that you have a call coming in or must get back to your work. You can train someone out of this behavior, but not necessarily teach them.
By defining the different classification of needs, you will work more efficiently, have a broader impact and be able to help others to help themselves.