What I learned from the MO Department of Transportation | HR Fishbowl

Written on June 9, 2010 by Charlie in #TrenchHR, Vacation Archive i64-9435417

I’m still on vacation and enjoying it quite a bit…lovely weather, cooperative kids, ice cold drinks abound. Here’s one from the archives to wet your whistle – originally published back in December of 2009.


Interstate 64/Highway 40 runs East/West and cuts through the center of St. Louis.  It is a major artery between the city’s business center and suburban sprawl.  And two years ago, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MODot) completely shut down a 10 mile stretch to rebuild it. This morning, the entire thoroughfare was reopened and the flow of traffic hummed once again with jubilant commuters across the state.  MODot took an approach during this two-year period that critics warned couldn’t be done.  You should have heard the cries of injustice when the project was originally proposed. “It will be impossible,” people said, “to function without at least a small portion of this highway remaining open from end-to-end.”  There were many who strongly felt that keeping at least one lane open at all times with a maddening and stagnant flow of traffic would be preferable to rerouting commuters entirely.  Chicken Little warned that the community and its commerce would disintegrate.  Finally, and thankfully, those experts with cooler heads prevailed.  They pushed the political posturing and strong-armed tactics aside. And now the project has openedahead of schedule, under budget, and without fail.

This is a perfect example of why non-experts who say “it can’t be done” need to be very simply excluded from the conversation – like “thanks for coming, but it’s time for you to go bye bye now.” We often run around trying to give everyone a voice in important decisions…and we do this alot in HR.  Well guess what, that’s just not the way the world runs.  There are usually people who are smarter, faster, stronger, and all around better than you are at something and when it’s time to make a decision about that something, you need to get the hell out of the way. Do you ever notice that many business leaders are strongly inclined to insert themselves into HR decisions?  How dare you pretend you’re smarter than I about something I do for a living…successfuly.  Relinquish control, you self-riteous blow-hard, and learn to trust your colleagues and your peers to make thoughtful and thorough decisions about the things you hired them to do.  I’ll collaborate with you on HR stuff until I’m freakin’ ready to scream as long as you ultimately leave the final decision to me…and as long as you give me room to make that decision. If you’re not in that kind of environment, it might be time to take a stronger stance and kick those non-experts out of the room.

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