2020-08-04 HR Examiner article Jason Seiden Five Steps for Making Smarter HR Tech Decisions stock photo img cc0 by bernard hermant 9gNPo38Aygg unsplash 544x816px.jpg


If you read only a single article this year about how to lead an HR function, make this the one, it’ll make you smarter.


It’s an open secret amongst sales people that making someone feel smart is a great way to propel a deal forward, while showing someone how to be smart is often a deal-killer. Why? Because feeling smart feels good to everyone, while being smart threatens to expose anyone in the room who’s been pretending. It’s pain avoidance and pleasure seeking, plain and simple. 


And we can use this insight to help us make HR smarter. Here’s how:


Don’t bother (Step 1)


If you’re already in a decision-making position, then clearly, something’s already working for you. Change, meanwhile is uncomfortable, stressful, and risky… and for what? How much smarts does it really take to run a business, after all? Don’t rock the boat.


Push for speed (Step 2)


Haste makes waste! And yet people in business never argue with leadership’s desire for “increased velocity.” Hmm. Even though it is 100% synonymous with “make haste” and, ergo, leads to waste, we can’t get enough of it. Well, the smart move here is to use this linguistic trickery to your advantage! If you’re being pushed to make smarter decisions, counter with a push for faster decisions, faster implementation, and faster results. That will eliminate any possibility for thoughtfulness and functionally put you back at Step 1, which is where you want to be.


Hire someone smart but naïve (Step 3a)


If you need real intelligence, find someone naïve who’s willing to tuck under you and not ask too many questions. Probably someone young, and/or with something to prove. Or maybe someone who is willing to be quiet because they need the benefits. Promise them mentorship and nod a lot when they speak. Then do what they recommend, but only after taking 24 hours to think about it and coming back to them letting them know they confirmed what you—and the entire leadership team, really—were already thinking. The goal is to imply that you are so smart that you didn’t even need to do the research to know the answer. Fire them if they build too many relationships inside the company or start letting people know it’s them doing the actual work—that’s a sign that they’re getting wise, a big no-no.


Hire a consultant (Step 3b)


High quality version of photo of Jason Seiden for HR Examiner Articles

Jason Seiden, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board Contributor

Ha ha, just kidding. Don’t hire a consultant. If you do, they might realize that you’re the problem, and since it’s the company that hires them and not actually you, they have a responsibility to go over your head and report to your boss that you’re a dope. Better: buy a consultant coffee and use what you learn to push an agenda in the office. Here’s the smart way to do it: tell the consultant you are thinking about switching jobs and you want to know what’s hot in the industry. You have to do this because consultants worth their salt will not let you “pick their brains.” Then, go back to work and say something like, “I was talking with a colleague of mine who consults with F100 companies, and she told me our HRIS strategy is what the top 20% are working to achieve. We should press our advantage.” Who cares if you ever even talked about it, you’re not sharing names, so no one can challenge you. Stir the pot until someone else takes up a plan for doing the actual legwork to vet tech platforms, and boom, you’re back at Step 1.


Blame someone else (Step 4)


At risk of having a bad decision catch up with you? Rather than deal with it intelligently, blame a subordinate or boss for getting in your way. If you are loud enough and create a big enough mess, people will probably just let your version of events stand because it won’t be worth their energy to fight your battle—covering your mistake is important to you, not them. They’ve got their own mistakes to worry about! They’ll want to save their bullets for their own fights, so chances are, they’ll get tired and just let you have your thing. This strategy works at literally every level of life, because #humancondition. Blame away, baby, to go directly back to Step 1!


Take your conclusion, and go one step further (Step 5)


Now what if none of the above is working for you and you’re stuck actually needing to make a smarter HR technology decision? You poor thing. 


Well, if you’re unlucky enough to find yourself in this predicament, try this: take the time allotted for your next meeting and cut it in half. Force the team to come to a conclusion. (Don’t worry, you won’t miss anything.) Now, make that your starting point. Ask the team: what will the impact of this be on…. And fill in the blank with every stakeholder the team has, from the customer to other departments to vendors.


When the team gets stuck, identify the person from each stakeholder group who y’all can go to learn the real answer. Then invite those people in (or just call them) and ask them what the impact of the decision would be. They’ll tell you. You just have to ask (hopefully nicely).


When you do that, you’ll end up with something really intelligent: a plan with anticipated consequences. And you know what they say about thinking two steps ahead, right?


That’s smart thinking…


And you’ll have just done it.


Nice job, y’all.

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