How many roots have you uncovered recently?

I was listening to the radio on my way home the other night and heard about a great new approach to dealing with low to mid risk domestic violence offenders.  Rather than sending these people off to prison for a few months, the social work team had devised an 18 week programme for these people to be part of.  The purpose of the programme was to change behaviour, and help people manage their anger, essentially through a coaching approach.  I struggled with some of it, e.g. “imagine what you don’t want your child to say about you when they’re 18″ – rather than focussing on the positive and pre-supposing success.  But overall it sounded like an amazing approach and seemed to be working (only 3 re-offenders out of about 70 participants so far – far less than people who get put away).

This story appealed to me because I’m a true, absolute, whole-hearted believer in dealing with root causes – not just putting a sticky plaster over something.

And so the bit that had me shouting at the radio (it’s OK, I was on my own in the car!) was the interviewer saying to an offender – “don’t you think people listening to this will be angry that you haven’t been jailed?”


I would be far happier if my taxes were going on this sort of scheme that raises self awareness and actually addresses the heart of the issue, instead of locking people up in hotels……. sorry, I mean prisons…..

But this then also got me thinking about people at work, what we do, how we do it…….

How many times have you seen a significant performance problem that hasn’t been addressed, that’s led to a breakdown in the relationship between the employee and their manager, perhaps moved into a grievance alleging their manager’s bullying them, that’s impacted the rest of the team because they’re compensating for someone else’s workload, that’s led to a lack of engagement and motivation in the team because they see that ‘somene’ apparently not being talked to about it……….where’s the root-cause solution of support and development for that line manager to lead their team to be great at their jobs, or to find a new job if this one isn’t helping them to be at their best.

How many times have you seen a flaw in a process or system that’s causing employees to do a ‘bad’ job for their internal or external customers because the problem’s been sticky-plastered for years……..where’s the root-cause solution of clearing away the blockages and barriers to get these basics right and help work to feel like one majorly better place to be.

How many times have you seen a leader fire fighting, drowning in work, frantically trying to get everything done that their boss is demanding, on a downward spiral of over-work and stress, making them less effective in everything they do, firmly stuck in operator/manager mode……..where’s the root-cause solution of leadership development to enable that person to set the vision for their team, to get the team excited so delegation isn’t a task, so that people are pulling to be part of it, to coach their team in how they’re going to get there – together!

We have a hugely important role in HR – we can influence all of this, and help release an incredible volume of untapped potential in people every day.  But only if we’re curious, inquisitive and caring enough to dig deeper than the surface problems and challenges we see, to uncover the true root of the issue.  And to then be part of the root-cause solution that fundamentally moves people to a stronger, better place where they can flourish.

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