The random collision of people and places

How HR and Facilities have traditionally worked together

In a blinding moment of utter selflessness, I’ve committed the rest of my professional life to building bridges. Not the big iron ones between land masses that requires me to face my fear of vertigo but the ones riding on the back of a slow-burning realisation in society that the next defining shift for work is the promotion of collaboration as a key differentiator. Command and control, dontcha know, is so last century !

But if I take myself out of the habitual visualizing of a future movement of well-chiselled, high cheekboned, collaborative HR working men and women aggregating insight like there is no tomorrow, the starting point today is certainly not for the faint hearted.

You see, jumping off points for changing anything are well, just bloody difficult. Despite LinkedIn influencers telling us how we should act before it arrives, the fact of the matter is that we don’t and for many of our organisations, only big ugly tipping points will force us into the change curve kicking and screaming like a scorned, drunken banshee.

Nowadays, we face a world of work that has been hardwired in such a manner for decades that silos have become an institutionalized art form. Adversarial and misaligned systems and cultures that do anything but encourage collaboration. The normal world order in business involves finance on one side of a God-like CEO and revenue generators on the other. Down into the descending ecosystem leaves room only at the bottom for both HR and typically Facilities to battle it out for last spot. Dependent on the state of the toilets or who HR have failed to pay this month determines who gets that last place.

And indeed, coming from the people side of this relegation battle, you’d naturally think this would breed a coherent band of sisters (typically) determined to unite against the might of the other functions above them in the relevance league table. Think again, we have more splitters in the HR space than exist in the Judea People’s Front.

Take the UK for example, the HR community is a broad church, yet two thirds of it can’t motivate itself enough to professionalise under the auspices of the monopolistic CIPD for a dramatically increasing number of pounds and pence per year. No such problem in the land of the free were competing HR professional associations are maneouvring for the heart and soul of the HR community in a war that could look like an anchorman cock fight soon. The L&D mob resent the HR mob, the baby boomers are looking forward to spending their large final salary pensions on a tasteless apartment overlooking Benidorm beach, whilst their new hire Miss Millennial looks on enviously as she cancels her retirement until she is 117 years old by knowing she will be cleaning the CEO’s robotic cognitive assistant in years to come. The small, homely, HR social-ites, skipping endlessly through fields of blogs & tweets bedecked in summer flowers and blue skies, are just enjoying the prose they write, receiving the accolades and expecting nothing back in return from their audience. Schisms and splits and silos galore.

And so on and so forth. 

The silos are endemic and as we have been left for decades to get used to our organizational system we have spent too much of our time making it more and more complex and building more and more walls between us in the process. 

But hey, guess what ? You know those perennial whipping boys in Facilities and HR ? Well, hold the front page, because a group of them from both professions have only gotten off their arses and decided to kickstart a movement designed to see off silos and the begin an era of true social collaboration.

For these unusual suspects, the Beyond the workplace initiative is all about building bridges between people and workplaces. A recognisable need exists now to help our organisations get to grips with how we think about the workplace, cope with the starting point for changing our hardwired systems and determining what sustainable activities will bring success in an exciting yet uncertain future.

I’m very honoured to be part of this fledgling initiative and like any successful social collaborative effort, it is being shaped by the crowd that drives it, seeking all-comers across the entire spectrum and beyond to build influence and drive its impact. Those motivated and expert enough are being asked to put their head above their siloed parapet and become a fellow traveller.

 “Northmen, Southmen, comrades all, soon there’ll be no silos at all” is the cry. 

I know you want to know more so here’s my call to action for now :

1. Head over and join the group on LinkedIn.

2. Follow the conversation on twitter with the hashtag #BTwC.

3. Participate in a forthcoming highly engaging Street Wisdom event in a city space near you. If in Central London grab the last spot on this week’s kick off event by booking here.

4. Lastly, why not book your place (and get a 10% discount code using code CT14BF1) on the fabulous HR Change and Transformation Conference 15-16th October and hear me talk about the initiative in more detail to an audience of senior HR folk.

Finally, both our much maligned functional areas have stared longingly at our respective navels for too long seeking that most human need to be respected for what we do. Whilst I’ve always understood how important both are, we have an opportunity to be the leading lights for once in our professional careers by making a difference to how organisations can adapt positively to the fundamental shifts facing us all.

Apathy is a very real part of today’s society and change is difficult, especially from those in organisational power systems not used to wielding such influence. Beyond the workplace needs to mobilise the hearts and minds of HR and Facilities professionals in the first instance before taking this insight into the boardrooms of Britain and beyond. Ask yourself, not what #BTwC can do for you, but what you can do for #BTwC.

Until next time, get involved and let’s make a difference.


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