Calling all HR. Everyone is not equal.

Quite the bold statement above but, I will begin with my defense. While at the Ohio SHRM conference attended by 700+ HR professionals, I heard multiple presenters discuss this theory contrary to what we’ve always been taught. Everyone is created equal. In the previous statement lies truth, we are created equal but, as we go on in life we don’t all end up in the same place.

Now, why is it important for HR to focus on this statement? Michael Couch President of his own management consulting firm discusses the “Peanut Butter Effect.” Think of yourself making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. If it’s me making a PB&J there’s peanut butter on both sides with just a little bit of jelly in the middle. Spreading the peanut butter evenly is of the utmost importance in making an epic PB&J. HR uses this technique when programs reward everyone, when performance reviews reflect “above average” for low and high performers, when compensation remains the same among everyone on a team.

The high potentials, the top performers are not being recognized and they’re being put on the same playing field as those sucking the life out of the organization. How does this affect retention of your high potentials? You be the judge.

Your executive team wants to trust their HR department. To have a successful organization it’s important to know how HR can establish open communication with senior leadership. The cornerstone for this relationship is based on the treatment of high potentials. Are you rewarding top performers? Is there a distinction among those who will move up in the organization? Do you as HR have a plan for talent necessary to retain in order to keep a competitive edge?

I understand that the overall thought of treating individuals differently is taboo. But, in the case of creating a healthy relationship with the executive team as well as a profitable company, HR must understand everyone is not equal. But, why? Why shouldn’t we spread the peanut butter so that everyone has a taste for success, everyone gets the 3% merit increase. Won’t that make everyone happy? No, the most important people to your company’s success, you’re high potentials become discontent.

Tim Sackett spoke on “What Your CEO Wishes HR Would Do” and answered the burning question. Why does the executive team want HR to treat high po’s differently? Why do they want these folks to stay? Because I will bet more often than not, your executive team is a group of high po’s themselves. Show your C-Suite team there’s a commitment to fostering talent with a chance to lead.

Are you working toward a relationship with senior leadership? Are you retaining high potential talent? Or are you just spreading the peanut butter?


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