I attended SHRM National a few weeks ago and got a great once in lifetime (at least for me) experience - jumping off the Stratosphere in Las Vegas. 850 feet, 108 stories - called the SkyJump (check it out! it was fun). While I was up on the 108th floor getting ready to jump, I was reminded of a quote a supervisor of mine once told me:
"Tim, some people just aren't cut out to pack parachutes."
I'm not sure why that quote came to me, at that exact time, could have been I was about to jump off a very tall building and I might have been a bit concerned about the individuals chosen to ensure the safety of the equipment I was about to use - yeah - I'm fairly certain that was the reason! When you are looking 850 feet down, and getting ready to jump, it might be the only thing going through your mind - "I hope these people know what they are doing!" But how do you know - how do you know the person selected was "cut out to pack parachutes"?
My old supervisor told me this as I was trying to talk him into moving an individual into a role that he obviously feel the employee in question wasn't ready for. I think we as HR Pros are always trying to find the right fit for individuals in our organizations, and many times we are trying to make "Parachute Packers" out of individuals who aren't cut out for such an important, permanent type of job! Since we rarely move someone into a life and death role, in our organizations - we think it's alright, they'll be fine - even if they fail, it's good experience.
But it's not. It might be the one weakness we commonly have as HR Pros, we don't view the roles we move our employees into - important enough. We don't treat them likes its a life and death decision - it's just business. Is it? Or is it the life of our organizations and companies that we are taling about? Maybe it's time we start treating these moves with more reverence!
Organizations fight to survive every day. We as HR Pros need to have that same kind of fighting for our survival mentality, especially when making lasting organizational decisions - like making personnel moves. These moves are too important. The next time you get ready to move an employee into a new role in your organization, ask yourself one question.
Would I allow this person to pack my parachute?
It's not in a literal sense, but in a way that gets you to really think about the move you are about to make, and the person you are about to saddle that hiring manager with. No move is too small or unimportant in your organization to not ask this question.
As for me - I won't hire anyone into my company or keep anyone on my team, that I wouldn't feel completely comfortable packing my parachute!
Tim Sackett is the EVP of HRU and has over 18 years of corporate HR and Talent Acquisition background working with Fortune 500 companies. Tim speaks nationally on the topic of Talent and probably likes to hear himself speak more than anyone. When he's not talking, he is probably bugging the recruiters on why they aren't on the phone - and yes, he really does look like Richie Cunningham from Happy Days ...connect with Tim.