Last week I was not quite home, as it was  go time for HR Happy Hour.  So I thought no problem I will just call in on my cell phone and catch the start of the show that way.  Shortly thereafter, I found myself speaking to the show’s host Steve Boese.  Steve was missing his guest, and checking the phone lines for him.  A few moments later, I found myself along with Dawn Hrdlica-Burke (on twitter @DawnHRRocks ) as what Steve referred to as conscripted guests.

So in true live broadcaster fashion Steve charged ahead with the show and tossed a few question at Dawn and me, that he was going to ask his guest Hank Gilman.   Hank has authored a book called You Can’t Fire Everyone.  You can catch the show here if you like.

Now during the course of our conversation Steve asked Dawn and me both about “top talent”

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and how we treat them.  I kind of downplayed top performers saying  that I didn’t want to rock the boat too much.  Dawn on the other hand said she wanted a whole organization full of rock stars.  Dawn is in the software business and I am in manufacturing.  After reflecting on our comments and where they came from, I had somewhat of an epiphany about this. Compared to Dawn I am practicing defensive HR  (not unlike defensive medicine).  Dawn is seeking all the rock stars she can get, me not so much.

Dawn is more than willing to deal with the difficulties that the rock star may bring her, in return for their rock star performance and talent.  Me, I am trying to keep peace in the house.  As I thought about this, it became clear to me that what I am doing is maintaining the status quo.

Rather than leading with bold innovation and pushing the envelope, I don’t stray too far from the known path. I don’t take outlandish risk.  However it is with outlandish risk come outrageous gains.   The great equalizer here is this, if one goes too far out on a limb and things don’t work out, you may find yourself in a very precarious employment situation, depending upon how your superiors views your actions.  Said another ways does your boss think you are being reckless or innovative?  In many instance this will speak to who is willing to take risk and who is not.

As I look at the industry comparison, those of us in manufacturing are into replication, while those in software are always looking for innovation.

I am not sure what all of this means.  I am going to look real hard and my prospective here and see if I can force myself to live a little closer to the edge.  So I owe Steve and Dawn a big thanks for helping me to see this.