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One of my brilliant friends and mentors, Pam Slim, asked and then wrote a fantastic post about, “What are we going to leave behind in 2016?” The premise was that when we look at year-end activities and planning, we’re so focused on what we are going to do in the upcoming year, that we forget to leave behind things that didn’t work for us this year. And while it’s a genius reflection for your personal life, it’s also a great question to ask your HR team.

What is (or should) HR leave behind in 2016?

After talking to many of you this past year, the list of what HR should leave behind would be quite long. Ahem, traditional performance reviews would likely be at the top of that list with several “plug-and-play” HR programs and activities.

I wish I could wave a wand and grant you that wish. But for most of us, especially those in larger corporate roles, that’s easier said than done.

BUT, that doesn’t mean that this question of what should be left behind isn’t a critically important question for you to ask yourself and your HR team. Because your HR business is more than just corporate-driven annual activities – and there are definitely things on a day-to-day business, that needs re-evaluating.

Here’s Where to Start

Is your “gut” your decision maker?

I cannot state this enough, but it’s well-past time for HR to be making decisions in the lives of the employees we serve, based on our gut. Or what SHRM says is trending. Or what your VP has decided to do based on “feedback” from your CEO.

Moving into 2017, this is the number one thing you must leave behind.

I know that it seems as though this only applies to larger decisions – but this is an indicator for everything that you do. Remember, you run your own HR business for the employees you serve.

Are you blindly executing items that are coming down from the top? Have you started to create your own HR metrics program (you can learn how to start here, here, or here)?

Being a fluffy HR department and HR professional, will not help you grow your career in 2017. It’s time to leave behind the mindset of being “personnel” or “getting a seat at the table” or “being happy we’re finally at the table.” Let’s leave all of that preciousness behind in 2016. Instead, it’s time to step fully into using objective reasoning (HR metrics), to deliver results.

Are the activities you’re doing on a daily/weekly/monthly basis tied to concrete outcomes?

In other words, is the work that you’re doing, maybe even on auto-pilot, going to deliver actual outcomes to better or improve your company and business? The majority of your day is likely spent on the grunt work of HR – answering emails, attending emails, processing transactions, and so on. Is this work delivering tangible outcomes to your company?

It’s hard to take a step back and look at what we’re actually doing instead of letting momentum carry you forward from day-to-day. Attending every meeting we’re invited to, answering the same question via email time after time so we deliver awesome customer service, to just name a few. But I urge you to look at these “activities,” or perhaps busy work? and really connect your actions to outcomes.

Do you keep answering the same questions over-and-over again?

I don’t know about you, but for me, having to explain the same darn thing over-and-over again is pretty frustrating. And annoying. And time consuming.

Isn’t your time more valuable than that?

So let’s leave that nonsense behind in 2016, shall we?

Look back at your inbox or shared mailboxes if necessary, and start flagging items that seem to be asking for clarification, more information, additional resources, and so on. While you were spinning your wheels answering each email with detailed information (or worse, pointing them to various links on your intranet), you were missing an opportunity to listen to your employees.

As you move into 2017, fix this issue – once and for all (at least for the batch of emails you’re looking at now). As a reminder, when you get questions about something, it means your employee believes the next step/action is so important that they are afraid to mess up or want to be sure it’s done correctly.

Reexamine where the questions are coming from and if there are additional ways to update your communications/channels to better answer these questions or give reassurance. Not only will this serve your employees better, but it will also free up needed time to do more strategic HR work.

To Conclude

There are many things that aren’t covered here to evaluate what you want to leave behind in 2016. Maybe it’s more of a mindset or a specific activity that you absolutely never want to see again. That’s great (and encouraged) – just don’t forget to look at what needs to be left behind in 2016 so you don’t stay on the same hamster wheel for 2017.