What ‘Expert’ Advice Won’t Tell You: There’s no Shortcut to Anywhere Worth Going

Expert advice online seems to have an easy answer to every problem -- even in HR. (Illustration by Dreamstime)
Expert advice online seems to have an easy answer to every problem -- even in HR. (Illustration by Dreamstime)

Yes, the Yankees lost and believe me,  New York was in a twit.

How could we lose? We can’t lose. We always win. These were some of the comments on the subway and from conversations on the street. Every man and woman out there knew why the Yankees lost, and they also knew what they needed to do to win next year.

On Sunday morning, I turn on NFL Network and listen to the “analysts.” Each one has a plan as to why a team will win or won’t win. The majority of these analyst were former players, and it seems they have all the answers.

Sometimes I think maybe they should just become the coach and win each and every Super Bowl. They have it all figured out; just follow these 1-5 steps and you will get it done.

Online analysts make every answer sound simple

As I preview article on Twitter and LinkedIn, I come across the same type of analysts. They make it sound just so simple. As I read some of the topics I just shake my head.

  • “3 ways to get the job”
  • Building a Talent Management system in 5 easy steps”
  • “Five steps to accomplish your goal

I searched the following phrases on Google and here’s what I found:

  • “5 easy steps” = 74 million results;
  • “4 easy steps” = 78 million results;
  • “2 easy steps” = 87 million results.

These easy steps run the entire gamut from “Boosting your credit in 2 easy steps” to “5 easy steps to creating a marketing plan.” I have seen how to build a talent management program in any number of steps. How about creating a engaged employee in one less step than you may have been planning? How about making HR more strategic in, say 4 or 5 easy steps? Take your pick.

I do not claim that following these steps will not work for you. I also do not believe in one size fit all. It just seems that everyone is an analyst or an expert today. “Get it done quick.” “Lose that weight in 7 days.” If it was that easy everyone would just do it and sit back. Case closed! Job done!

I can attest to this in the HR space. There are no easy answers. We are facing a myriad of problems as we try to right our ships. We have analyzed, reviewed, designed, listened, researched, and met numerous times trying to get our plans in shape. We have implemented, rolled out, directed, launched, and soft launched our programs. All to various shades of success and in some cases outright failure.

In HR, there are no easy answers

Even if we have not started on that journey, but know that we have to go there, and that there is no easy way. There will be countless hours, meetings, second guessing, and worry. We have to do the work and that will require research, understanding of the culture, stakeholder support, and organizational trust. All these ingredients will be needed. Although I listed only four, I am sure that you could probably add to the list. Each case is different.

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The Internet has caused all this simplicity for about every subject imaginable. You name it and somebody claims to have an easy way to do it. Sign up for a conference and you are all but guaranteed to walk away with a plan. Sit in on webinar and the take-aways all but assure you that as soon as you log off and hang up, it will be done. Next step will be implementation.

As the saying goes “Don’t believe the hype.”

If you are struggling with an issue, what has always worked for me is to begin doing the research from a variety of sources. This could be books written on the subject, white papers from respectable thought leaders, magazine articles, etc. I tend to stay away from numbered road maps.

Once I have ingested all this content, I begin to design my model. I bring in early key participants that will partner to bring this to life. Most importantly, I bring in the key audience members that it is designed for.

So as your wrestle with your demons, remember this: “There is no short cut to go anywhere worth going.” That’s true whether it pertains to a career changing move, your life, a business decision, or your future.

So stay away from the mindless simplicity of “X easy steps to X.” You will be better off in the long run.

Ron Thomas is Managing Director, Strategy Focused Group DWC LLC, based in Dubai. He is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute covering the MENA/Asia Pacific region.

He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf and former CHRO based in Riyadh. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as Global Human Capital Strategist, Master Human Capital Strategist, and Strategic Workforce Planner.

He's been cited by CIPD as one of the top 5 HR Thinkers in the Middle East. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia

Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living.

Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly's Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy.

His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Workforce Management and numerous international HR magazines covering Africa, India and the Middle East.

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