Perspective is an interesting concept. “From where I sit,” says a character in my favorite movie, “so-and-so is way out of her league doing what she’s doing.” I’ve changed the quote a bit because what her action was doesn’t really matter. The response of the other character in the scene is the important point. She said, “Want my advice? Change your seat.”
Maybe because I moved recently and am getting used to new and different surroundings, I’ve spent some time reflecting on the insights that taking a different perspective can offer. From “changing my seat,” as it were. And I think there is real value to be gained from shifting perspective periodically, whether it’s in our personal lives or in the workplace.
On the personal side, in this last week, alone, my new location has offered up an interesting assortment of scenery and a startling plethora of wildlife. In the course of our daily walks, my dog and I have discovered several fascinating bodies of water nearby and just a few highlights that we’ve seen:
• A variety of ducks that I haven’t encountered before
• Egrets, herons and assorted other water birds
• Impressively large turtles
• Even more impressive, two alligators
• A wild turkey (and not the kind you drink!)
• Three varieties of plants that were unfamiliar
• A breed of dog I’d not see before (Tibetan spaniel)
Changing one’s seat at work can lead to new experiences, too. Even literally. Have you ever noticed that people tend to sit in the same places at staff meetings or other regular gatherings? I have seen that in my own past jobs, and I’ve purposely changed seats. It causes others to shift, too (and as a warning, they don’t always like that!). Just seeing the conference room from the other side helped me to think differently about some of the topics under discussion.
Most HR professionals have well-developed people skills, as you know. So we’re pretty attuned to trying to keep employees’ perspectives in mind in the workplace. That may involve acting as workers’ advocates or simply taking an empathetic approach to addressing unusual or complex issues.
Considering our work from management’s perspective enables us to gain a deeper understanding of the business impact that HR can have. It may give us insight that helps us provide our leaders with better information about people-related programs and concerns. Seeing the workforce through the boss’s eyes also can offer HR perspective that we can translate into positive influences on hiring, training, advancement options, benefits, and other programs or processes.
It’s easy to see that even doing little things to view the world differently can offer the potential for constructive change. If nothing else, it can provide great food for thought. So if you feel that a little inspiration or perspective could prove refreshing at home or at the office … maybe it’s time to change your seat.
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