HR and Duct Tape

Photo courtesy of Carol McDaniel

I had the distinct pleasure of attending the Daytona 500 NASCAR race on Sunday courtesy of It truly was a lifetime, bucket list experience that I’ll never forget. OMG, it was fun – and LOUD.

Being ever the Whisperer though, I couldn’t help but watch everything that was happening around me and how people behaved. The audience, I guess was pretty typical. Never having been to a car race of this type before, I rather expected that fans would be mostly young men. Not true. Yes, a ton of guys (which made the lines incredibly long for the restroom, which I thought was hilarious, BTW, as it’s usually the other way around!), but really most of the audience were middle-aged couples who were out for the day. Lots of what I call trick-or-treating too, at all of the booths in the exhibit area leading to the track. I was amazed at how long the line was to get free snack-size boxes of cereal. Who knew?

But what really struck me was during the race itself. I don’t know if you follow NASCAR or watched the race, but the cars are traveling in excess of 220 miles per hour and literally stack up one against the other for drafting purposes. Well, this strategy often ends up in one car losing control and crashing either into another car or the wall. That’s a lot of what makes NASCAR so exciting. Fortunately, most of the time no one gets hurt, but the car gets trashed. These cars then limp off to the pit where miraculously they are put back together in mere seconds and then tossed back into the race.

Know what the team uses to put the car panels and bumpers back together?

You guessed it. Duct tape.

Which got me thinking about how HR is really the duct tape of an organization.

Consider. We are the essential element in making the organization “stick” together. Yes, pun intended.

More and more we see HR moving from the transactional, compliance-focused function to a strategic partner with expertise in people and human behavior. Without a good understanding of people and how they behave, especially in situations of constant change, NO organization will be successful.

Good HR is about observation and analysis behind the scenes, compiling data and then creating the processes to create or maintain organizational integrity, coherence and congruence. We use processes to inform, influence and define behavior and culture.

Essentially, any other organizational resource depends on the human resource.

So, HR keeps things together. Just like duct tape.



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