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May 17

Blame it on Familiarity

Our next post in our guest blogger series comes from Shauna Moerke, the HR Minion.  Shauna is an HR professional, social media advocate, and a huge geek.  She blogs as the HR Minion, serves as the current Ringmistress of the Carnival of HR, Co-Host of the HR Happy Hour blog talk radio show, and is one of the Co-Founders of the Women of HR.

When you’ve worked at a company for any real length of time, inevitably you get to know your co-workers really well. You learn who’s the loud talker on the phone, the exact cigarette break schedule of your boss, and who always takes the last cookie from the break room. You get used to everyone’s peculiarities. More importantly, you quickly learn who are the hard workers and who the subject matter experts are too.

But does it always stay that way? Are the best employees of today necessarily the best employees of tomorrow? Are the ones you relied upon during times of stability the same ones you need during times of growth and change? Maybe. But maybe not. The problem with becoming familiar with your co-workers is letting those early impressions of them continue to influence you past the point of prudence.

Do you always give the best opportunities to the same people? When you need someone to create a process or helm a project do you ever reach out to someone new? How can you know if your best employees are still the best if you are just assuming they are? Longevity with a company means comfort, knowledge, and hopefully loyalty. It makes sense that if someone has always seemingly come through for you that you would continue to rely on them. But that may also mean you are missing the potential superstars who can do it better or bring something revolutionary to your team.

jelloFamiliarity does not always breed contempt, but sometimes it inspires blind complacency. If you hear yourself saying “She’s always been our best employee” or “He’s been here so long he knows everything” you may need to re-examine what it is you and your company really needs. Especially if things aren’t as good you want them to be. If you aren’t happy with the process/job/company/employee/coffee that you have and if you aren’t looking for something better, you deserve to keep what you have. But if you want change, all you need to do is start looking around. The change you want might already be around, it may even be within the guy who always brings jello to the potlucks.

Image by stevendepolo

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