The Direction to Decolonizing Human Resources

Updated: Feb 5

In the era of reconciliation, co-creating and decolonizing, many things are transforming and expanding into new fields, domains and facets of knowledge. Many organizations and institutions are taking steps to transform their industry, occupations and how they go about their business while also choosing to go beyond the status quo. Human resources is awaiting change makers to step out the comforts of the "business as usual". Though there is a significant opportunity to adopt cultural approaches and weave in cultural protocol into leadership and organizational behaviour. Moving from hierarchy to situational leadership Hierarchies tend to limit an organization's ability to brainstorm ideas, mobilize solutions, and foster innovative growth. With a "war on talent" many organizations are without "adequate" leadership or decision-makers, and without an "appropriate" person situated in the role many important decision are not made. Many organizations are structured to have a top tier leader who is a jack of all trades, which can be difficult to replace once/if the person decides to move on. For example, we are seeing more senior positions becoming more and more difficult to recruit for. Back to weaving cultural protocol in human resources and leadership; there is an opportunity to embrace situational leadership, which is a significant leap away from titles, positions, and hierarchies. Situational leadership harnesses and honours the gifts of individuals in the group/organization and allows for a natural formation of roles, based on one's willingness and ability to step into the role. This is a real testament to an organizational culture, team cohesiveness and autonomy and trust. For example, in many cultural works, "managers" or "leaders" are not appointed, but people have the innate ability to follow based on mutual trust and respect. From there, individuals are able to orchestrate what needs to be done, typically following the usual storming, norming, forming and performing. Moving away from traditional organizational hierarchies allows for organizations to be adaptable and v to the changing environmental contexts. Which, further reinforces job enrichment, job sharing and having greater flexibility and overall job satisfaction. Currently, organizations and employment standards are not structured to easily allow for short-term assignments and it becomes convoluted when determining pay. However, I see an opportunity to foster project-based work to allow for growth, skill development and increased employee retention. How can we also allow this for small organizations? Minimizing time constraints and moving to what matters Time constraints and deadlines have been foundational tools to "get things done" and moving ideas and solutions forward. In many examples, moving ideas forward too fast and without lengthy planning processes (e.g., consultation or engagement), can cause poorly implemented solutions which can be more costly and time consuming. On the contrary, without appropriate leadership many things can fall to the wayside. Core beliefs/teachings that I have found useful and continue to carry throughout the work that I do are:

  • "everything will work out the way it is suppose to work out"

  • "everyone who needs to be here will be here".


Meaning, it is important to have a goal, vision and a desired outcome however, the world may not be ready to fully implement aspirational ideas and what is perceived to be currently needed, instead ideas need to be planted for the future. This also further reinforces, that "everything happens for a reason", meaning that if someone is absent from an important meeting or discussion, that this can provide an opportunity for others to step into a leadership role or contribute in another meaningful way.

If it matters, you will make time for it

Creating time and making space for what matters, sometimes means conversations extend longer or shorter however, it gives spaces to what needs to be said/heard, and allows people to talk about things until "they feel good". This ensures things move forward in a good way and that everyone feels confident and comfortable with an outcome. Moving forward with what matters opens the door for spirituality, trusting something greater than ourselves and trusting the process. More often than not, organization's rush with urgency, deadlines and budgets which are sometimes not for the better, which leaves little time for deep reflection, redirection or re-evaluation. Finally, when do organizations easily and more readily accept when things do not move forward? Failures and mistakes happen and in Indigenous culture we embrace these opportunities for learning, healing and honouring all experiences. Sharing power and control From a holistic perspective and recognizing that everything is connected, the construct of power and control, ties greatly into hierarchy and time. Many individuals within communities have a unique span of gifts and talents, beyond their titles, affiliations, and groups. For example, the traditional career trajectory meant aspiring for leadership and management roles; however, present day, let's explore opportunities to share decision-making, power, authority and leadership. It is about creating opportunities for people to grow and transform with the organization, especially in a time of limited talent pools and the "Great Resignation" era. This post is not intended to provide any specific solutions, but instead to meet organizations where they are at and allow them to create unique and innovative solutions that meet the needs of their groups/organizations.

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