County News Home Page
November 15, 2004
NACo Home Page
NACO Home Current Issue Back Issues Editorial & Advertising
County News

The H.R. Doctor Is In

Joining the Resistance Movement

The HR Doctor has finally done it – he has joined a health club! I did it to help me succeed in reaching a rather modest goal of losing about 15 pounds, improving muscle tone and general fitness. In considering the best way to accomplish a better fitness agenda, and in discussions with doctor and HR daughter, Rachel, an interesting point, well known to coaches, athletes and sport medicine practitioners, came to light.

The only way to improve muscle tone is to practice "overcoming resistance." The essence of weightlifting is to push or pull against weight, so muscle tissue can be built up stronger and in greater volume than before. Doing weightlifting repetitions and gradually increasing the resistance over time leads to improved muscle volume and density.

On the other hand, trying to make health and fitness progress by spending most of the time lying on a couch watching television is likely to improve no muscle density at all, with the possible exception of the strength of the index finger operating a remote control button. The way to avoid muscle decline and atrophy is to do much more than practice using one finger, and by this I mean, the index finger!

This weightlifter’s truth about overcoming resistance also offers important lessons for people in public service, and indeed, in any organization. Making progress in any organized endeavor means overcoming resistance.

Easing resistance to achieve positive purposes is a key skill of a successful weightlifter or an administrative weightlifter. Resistance is not a bad thing. It does, however, require some personal characteristics that are important not only at work but in life in general.

The first of these is the ability and willingness to listen as much, if not way more than we speak. This is perhaps the reason why we were each born with two ears and only one mouth.

Listening can produce amazing results. For one thing, a person may hear very strong arguments not previously thought about or considered. What looks like a great idea at first may turn out to be something dangerous and inappropriate when we take in the thoughts and opinion of others.

Listening is also critical to our ability to succeed, if not survive, in a tremendously diverse culture where people speak different languages, have different backgrounds and can bring diverse perspectives to the solving of a problem.

Along with listening comes a requirement for patience. Patience is an ingredient lacking in the bully administrator, but necessary to make the best decisions. Even in times of emergency it is important to spend some time, even necessarily a very brief time, considering whether that first judgment about which orders are to be given may not be too rash. There is a role for intuitive decision-making in our lives, but when the stakes are very high, such as the expenditure of public money or putting employees or residents at risk, that intuition has to be balanced by thoughtful consideration.

Resistance training in the fitness world means developing a plan to begin in certain ways and to advance over time in a particular direction. The analogy for organizations is that there should always be a thoughtful plan connected to reaching any long-term goals.

Part of such a plan involves not only patience and listening, but active advocacy to help other people share the vision that you have – a vision which the administrator must learn to clearly and passionately articulate.

It is popular to create organization vision statements, and some of the ones the HR Doctor has seen seem to go on sentence after sentence. A personal vision or a government agency vision needs to have only a few words, but the words need to be passionate, and they need to stir the soul.

That is why in the HR Doctor’s opinion, a budget must never be used as a statement of the organization’s vision. The budget is a tool in advancing toward the future promised by the vision. But in and of itself, it is an accountant’s playground and must be balanced by compassion for helping people and providing extraordinary service.

So, a goal is set and a vision is articulated. A plan to turn resistance into support is thoughtfully developed, and a commitment is made to keep at it. The final piece is the value of not being afraid to ask for help. A personal trainer or a coach can offer the athlete experience, advice and the avoidance of trouble. It is not an attack on a person’s ego to admit the need for help. On the contrary, it is a very prudent step. In the world of the Internet, search engines, life-long learning available in every community and a network of friends, there is no reason and there is no excuse not to be able to find help, advice, support and constructive criticism.

Overcoming resistance is an important key to physical and organizational fitness. The HR Doctor is committing to lose 15 pounds, to be patient, and to listen carefully Ð especially to the coaching of the beautiful HR spouse, Charlotte. However, the commitment will begin immediately after dessert tonight!

The dreaded villains on Star Trek, the Borg, were known for repeatedly saying "Resistance is futile." They were wrong. Not only can it be productive, but it is essential to personal and organizational success!

The HR Doctor hopes you join the resistance movement! You have nothing to lose – actually, perhaps you do, around the middle?

Phil Rosenberg


Profiles In Service

Research News

NACo On the Move

News from the Nation's Counties

The H.R. Doctor Is In

What's In a Seal?

Financial Services News

Job Market / Classifieds
Write to Your Editor
Print This Page

Bookmark and Share
NACo Home  |  Current Issue  |  Back Issues  |  Editorial & Advertising
© Copyright 1996-2002 County News