Back when my kids thought I was cool, we had a pretty amazing run of “Car Karaoke” episodes* that we posted to YouTube. In some episodes, the family dog even made an appearance. Easily some of the most memorable times of my life, I still share them on occasion just to embarrass them. That’s Dad 101, amigos.

When selecting a new song, I’d ask for any favorites, and it was pretty amazing to hear what they thought the name of the song was. My favorite? Foreigner’s classic jam, “Juice Box Hero.”

What’s that you say? It’s not JUICE BOX? You know that and I know that, but that’s not what my kiddos were hearing.

Long intro to a simple question – what are you hearing from your employees? I’ve been building up to this in previous posts during my #MediaFasting. The problem isn’t always the message being shared, it’s the narrative behind the message…AND the narrative playing in the head of the listener. That’s the part we often dismiss. When we believe so strongly in our own narrative that we’re unable to truly listen to another person’s differing viewpoint without applying our filters – that’s a problem. If you also happen to be in Human Resources, that’s a problem that could derail your career.

That’s clearly aligned with my peace of mind this week regarding world events. My narrative isn’t constantly being challenged by a contrary point of view. It softens my own viewpoint when I’m not on the defensive and/or I’m not getting emotionally charged by outrage on either side. Kind of nice actually. I can maintain my values without being threatened or denied the right to have to justify or defend myself, so I’m not baring my teeth ready to pounce if needed. Try it sometime.

But how about at work? In Human Resources we are constantly pulled into the narratives of our employees. Our biases will permit us to take one person’s complaint legitimately while dismissing another as “whining.” We can interpret employee survey results what we “expected” rather than valuable feedback needing further analysis. Alternatively, we can be susceptible to gaslighting when receiving information that aligns with our own stance. That’s the personal narrative that you must consciously (and constantly) identify when considering how to respond. It’s not an easy thing to do when your animal brain is caught up in current events that threaten the health and safety of your family as well as your employee population.

Right now in workplaces all over the world we have a huge disparity in the seriousness employers have given to workplace safety during the COVID pandemic. Some companies were prepared better than others, while some companies responded quickly and expertly and others lagged. Now that information from health officials continues to be questioned even within the science community, it’s easy to find justification for whatever your personal narrative may be on PPE, social distancing, remote work, and testing. Who is making those decisions at your company?

A quote from Steve Pascot in the latest issue of HR Magazine captures it wonderfully: “This is HR’s leadership moment.” You can’t be entrusted to do that if you’re bringing your bags filled with personal narrative to the office (virtual or otherwise).

Rock on my friends.