I had a conversation with a vendor today about performance management technologies. He used the phrase “Best Practice” like 57 times over the course of the hour we met. “This is a best practice…that is a best practice…it’s all a freakin’ best practice.” All this rubbish, aside from souring my mood, got me to thinking…
What the hell is a ‘best practice’? Who says it’s ‘best’? Best for what? Best for whom? In order for something to be the best, doesn’t it have to be better than everything else? And in order for it to be better than everything else don’t there have to be standards to measure it against? Since when can the multi-dimensional, unique, and complex dynamics of the workplace be reduced to a “standard”?
When it comes to the world of work, and particularly when it comes to the application of Human Resources, be very careful about the quest for best. “Best” is fickle and fleeting…it has a very short shelf life…it might not even exist at all. If I tried to pluck a ‘best practice’ from another organization and implement it at face value in mine, said practice (and I) would fail miserably. You know that, I know that. The only way you can get to ‘best’ in your HR practice for your company, is to build it with your company and your company alone in mind.
Next time a vendor tells you this is a “best practice,” put on your best smirk and ask, “says who?”
Next time some stupid magazine gives you a list of “best places to work,” go get a grain of salt.
Next time a recruiter tells you “this is the best candidate,” make sure it’s by your standards and not theirs.
Next time some self-righteous blogger tells you this is “the best way to do something,” ignore them.
Image Credit: Says Who Studios