3 lessons HR leaders can pick from Brexit

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If you thought that you’ve read enough posts on Brexit, you are wrong. I am sure there are many more in the pipeline and meanwhile, here is one from me. 🙂  There was no way I was going to let this one pass, though I admit I’m probably one of the last ones to write about it. However, given the subject, I doubt the conversation is going to die anytime soon. So hurray, here’s me jumping onto the bandwagon.

Brexit has taught the world many lessons all of which the HR world can learn from. Here are my top 3:

  1. Uninformed choices – I am a huge believer in transparency, empowering people and involving them in decision making. However, like Seth Godin says, ‘It’s a mistake to believe that people know all the facts before they decide.’ It is absolutely essential that you ensure that people understand the context, background and implications of the choices they make. Empowering people without giving them a complete picture can come back to bite you. What is surprising in the case of the Brexit Referendum is that the turnout was 71.8%, with more than 30 million people voting. It was the highest turnout in a UK-wide vote since the 1992 general election. The communication on a vote was clear, the rest not so clear. As HR professionals, it is our responsibility to ensure that the communication is complete and decisions aren’t being made with an incomplete picture.
  2. Majority isn’t always correct – Crowdsourcing doesn’t always work. Brexit may or may not be a wise decision but it certainly threw people into a frenzy and taught the world a lesson in crowdsourcing. It is important to know when to hand over decision making to the crowd and when to restrict it to inputs that effect but do not drive decisions. A lot of ideas and solutions that arise from the majority aren’t always practical and healthy at that particular point of time. It isn’t always wise to hand over decision making elsewhere. As much as the HR fraternity has been pushing for empowerment and collaborative decision making, understand that employees will not always throw up sensible solutions.
  3. Domino Effect – Remember the number of decisions we take just because we don’t want to set up a precedence? Precedence is a good thing to keep in mind. Britain isn’t the only nation wanting to leave EU. As per an Ipsos Mori poll, a large number of people in France & Italy too are looking to leave EU. Brexit could lead to a domino effect much like many decisions in the business world. It is important for us to coach leaders on the kind of precedence they set every time they deviate from the norm. Deviation is good but only when well thought out.

What lessons did you draw from Brexit?

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