Drive-thru HR Leaves You Hungry

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Super busy? No time for a sit down meal? Already ate all the snacks in the car?  Sometimes you have got to get fast food. It’s okay, it’s just a few times you tell yourself, it’s just when you’re starving and you need something to eat fast. However, if you went through the drive-thru all the time, you know what would happen. You can’t live a drive-thru life without consequences. That’s the analogy I think of when working with the client who wants to treat HR like it’s fast and cheap. Drive-thru HR.

A good meal takes some planning.  Whether its making a reservation at a favorite restaurant or compiling the ingredient list, shopping for groceries, preparing the recipe, it’s a time investment. With a great payoff, right? Personally, I prefer my meals filled with variety, spices, and essential nutrients including family and friends.  So in your organization, you have these unique employees with their own goals and dreams coming together to make your company run. They may have their own desires in terms of compensation, culture, management, and professional development. They have their own issues and clashes and collaborations. They’re the most important part of your organization. This meal takes time, investment, careful choosing of ingredients and processes so that nothing gets burned or otherwise ruined.

Unfortunately, leaders don’t always see it that way. HR just isn’t part of their overall strategy. Planning?  Investing?  Nope, they want a number to call when it’s a crisis, when they are already hangry (yes that’s a word) and they need help within minutes.  That’s drive-thru HR. They seem to believe their relationship with employees is held together with money, camaraderie, or fun, and they think HR is an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy that can’t be avoided. They’re not the ones who are going to sit down with us and talk about their management philosophy, or how they see their culture evolving. They call when they need to fire someone and they’re not sure its legal. Or when they get a notification from a regulatory agency. Or when they get sued.

And when they do call, they want the quickest fix possible. They want their problem solved in this moment so they can go back to ignoring the issues that pervade the organization. When it is pointed out that this problem might hint at systemic issues, if asked follow up questions, or a meeting is suggested, these kinds of managers tend to get frustrated. They say, “I don’t have time, can’t we just do a call?” It’s not that they’re busy—we’re all busy—it’s that they don’t recognize the importance of investing time and energy into their process. They don’t think of the support and knowledge HR can provide as they are building their human ecosystem. So are they really investing in their people?

We can all agree that there are times when you just have to eat and anything may do. Road trips come to mind. What’s the nearest drive-thru within 10 miles?  Can we agree that’s a terrible way for your HR to run ongoing?  We especially love working with clients who are thoughtful about HR strategies and recognize that their growth, profitability, and contribution to society depend a lot on how they treat and manage people. If you’d like to be that kind of company, we’d love to help you.




We work with companies on a project basis or on retainer, providing a custom level of HR help designed for your business, with offices in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Houston. Contact me at Caroline@valentinehr.com or call (512) 420-8267.