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Francois Guay


HR Consultant

Read more about Francois Guay

Blog: What HR can learn from Hannibal the Great


In 216 BC Hannibal crossed the Alps in terrible conditions to attack Italy.

His generals pleaded with him not to attempt it saying it would be impossible to cross the Alps with elephants. On hearing this Hannibal said “Aut viam inveniam aut faciam” or translated from Latin, I will either find a way, or make one. History tells us that he succeeded and became one of the greatest military strategists in history.
As human resource practitioners we can all learn from Hannibal and attempt to turn the tide on the business perception of our profession. For once and for all we have to stop saying “NO”.  Our tendency is to always be a naysayer, a party pooping old nag who wants to ruin everyone else’s fun. 
Sure we have legal and cultural responsibilities to the organization and to employees but just because we are blocked or limited in our action does not mean that we also like Hannibal cannot find a way to help the business succeed.  I find too many in our profession limit themselves by always siding with the status quo, always accepting legals’ opinion as to what is possible or more likely advisable.
It’s time to take a stance, take some calculated risks and go beyond traditional human resource service and delivery. So the next time you are asked by the business to try something new or to come up with a solution, do not do the following:
  1. Revert for answers in the Book of Golden HR rules
  2. Go ask legal for advice
  3. Say “We have always done it this way in the past”
  4. Say NO.
 Instead do the following:
  1. Tell them you will give it some thought and get back to them (make sure you do, pronto).
  2. Do some brainstorming with your team around solutions.
  3. Attempt to innovate.
  4. Say YES.
Like Hannibal sometimes attempt what seems to be the impossible. What others may think as insurmountable could be an opportunity for you and your business to shine. Find a way or make one. Your company will thank you for it and so will you.

Francois Guay is a recruitment and talent management consultant, who writes the ‘AttackDefendDisrupt’ blog.

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Francois Guay

HR Consultant

Read more from Francois Guay

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