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One of the things we HR practitioners get dinged on consistently is our ability to be flexible. Yes, there are compliance pieces and yet other things that we must oversee and manage in HR, but is there no flexibility in how we roll out our programs, initiatives and policies?

Being in business has taught me that one of the most important things we need to be able to do is “pivot”. The definition of “pivot” as a verb is “to turn on or around from a central point”.  In HR, we are the central point in the organization. It is the place from which all operational and transactional aspects of the business’s workforce emanate.

When you are asked to step slightly out of your comfort zone which is standing right at that central point- do you?

1) Tell your business partners an emphatic “no”.


2) Hear your business partners out and find ways to stand at your central point while pivoting to allow them some flexibility in how they accomplish what you need them to.

Pivoting in business is no longer a best practice-it is the way we need to support our partners in doing business. Owners of businesses have to pivot all of the time whether it is regarding the direction of the business or who they market a product to.  Doing things the same way with a sentiment of rigidity, control and authority is no longer the way we need to support the business. Just as business is changing so should the discipline of HR and how we do things.

The key to success is to have a basis by which you operate but not to impede progress for the sake of rules or compliance. Instead of saying “no” try listening, discussing and providing a new path for your partners to achieve their expected outcomes.

Consider these scenarios…

Has an employee asked you for some flextime to deal with personal obligations lately? Ask yourself this, are they a good employee and will this adversely impact the run of the business? If your answer is “no”, pivot and offer your employee some flexibility.

Does one of your hiring managers want to try a new platform for recruiting a specific professional that may cost more than what you usually pay for advertising? Pivot. Ask questions, find out more and offer he or she some alternatives if the option they have suggested isn’t budget-friendly.

I’m not just looking at you HR, this also applies to those running businesses that haven’t figured out the importance of pivoting. For all of your business savvy and vision, sometimes the reality of business or market conditions is very different. We are all part of an economy where the needs of the customer and the demand for products and services are rapidly changing.

Would you rather to hold on to a vision that no longer translates to a profitable business or might it make sense to pivot and explore new ways of serving your customers?

These are the types of considerations that businesses and those that support business owners need to be mulling over in 2014 and beyond. Pivoting is a business imperative not a new year’s resolution.

Here’s how you can work your way to pivoting today:

1) Start listening to customers, business partners, associates more.

2) Take every concern or suggestion you receive seriously and think about ways you can make each situation easier for your partners without forsaking you position.

3) Discuss possible alternatives with your customers/partners and allow for their input on how you reach the desired outcome.

4) Enjoy the fruits of having more collaborative relationships, because you were able to consider solutions and viewpoints other than your own agenda.

How will you pivot this year and how can I help you?


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