5 HR Learnings from 'The Power of Moments'

March marked the first month of our HRreads book club, and together we read The Power of Moments by coauthors (and brothers) Dan and Chip Heath. Our HRreaders gleaned several valuable takeaways from the book about how to create “defining moments” for employees. We wanted to share the learnings that made the biggest impact—no spoilers, we promise!

Without further ado, here are five things we learned from The Power of Moments:

1. First Impressions Matter

Early on, the Heath brothers described an employee’s first day on the job. The picture was dismal, resulting in the new hire feeling neglected and uncomfortable. "The lack of attention paid to an employee's first day is mind-boggling,” they say. “What a wasted opportunity to not make a new team member feel included and appreciated."

Nearly all of our readers mentioned that this piece of the book really hit home. “Your first day at a new job can be nerve-racking, but also a powerful moment that sets up your attitude for the rest of your time there,” says Michael Chung, Human Resources Manager. “Those are moments we in HR have the ability to influence positively.”

After this realization, Vicki Yang, Senior HR Business Partner, decided to rethink her company’s onboarding process, “I realized how often we forget about people's first days and what a defining moment it can be. We're looking at our onboarding process to make sure new hires feel special on day one. We're thinking of hanging a balloon at the person’s desk with their name, a fun fact, and maybe something like a spirit animal.”

Our onboarding toolkit has all the critical docs you’ll need, so you can focus on making it a great first day for new employees.

2. Defining Moments Stand Apart

The driving message of the book was that peak moments are lasting, and while many happen naturally, there are ways to strategically facilitate defining moments for yourself and those around you. “One of the things that stuck with me was how we can summarize our core life events by the peaks of whatever experience we have, rather than the other neutral moments that may surround it,” says Christian Acosta, HRIS Analyst.

You won’t remember every moment of your life, but it’s important to remember that you don’t have to leave these defining moments to chance. In HR, this comes into play when building out the employee experience. “It was a refreshing reminder that sometimes we need to pause and take time to create moments,” recalls Tiffany Bennett, Director of Operations. “We often get so caught up in the day-to-day, and though we all know that moments can be powerful, we have to set aside time to make these things happen.”

What is it that makes some moments stick out so much more than others? According to Tyler Cartwright, HR Coordinator, “One of the biggest things that surprised me was how much clothing can set apart a moment. When the Heath brothers explained moments like the Trial of Human Nature, or brought up memories of graduation or weddings, they mentioned that these all involved different clothing than everyday attire. This made me realize how simple it is to elevate a moment. Making it feel ‘different’ than any other moment really comes down to presentation.”

3. Peak Moments Transcend Time

Because peak moments stand apart from everyday routine, they don’t lose their impact after they occur. Peaks are the memories you carry with you throughout your life. After reading The Power of Moments, Acosta shares, “I find myself thinking a lot more positively and optimistically about what I can go to bed with at night. I focus on remembering the highlight of my day, rather than drowning in the ideas and functions that took up most of my time.” Creating peak moments can shape your own sense of purpose and facilitate that sense for those you encounter.

4. Purpose Outweighs Passion

The Heath brothers share a surprising finding: “People who were passionate about their jobs—who expressed high levels of excitement about their work—were still poor performers if they lacked a sense of purpose.” This reveals that employees need not only be excited by their work, but also understand its value.

This poses an important question for HR professionals, leaders, and managers around performance management. “I was surprised to learn that an employee can be passionate but if they don’t feel like they’re doing purposeful work, they could perform lowly,” says Chung. “The challenge is HOW to create moments in one’s career that will increase that feeling of purpose.”

5. Readers Want More In-Depth Material

The Power of Moments underscores the importance of creating better experiences and offered tips for getting started. While many readers found the tips in the book inspiring for their own practice, some readers felt that the book could have gone deeper.

According to one reader, “Some parts really resonated with me, but there were pieces that felt a little too fluffy, and it also seemed like the book could have been shorter and gotten the same points across.”

Another reader agreed, “I was kind of let down by this book. I found it to be a watered down version of a Psychology 101 course. On the other hand, had I not gone to school for this subject, I think this book would be great. It's palatable and written in a way that is easy to follow and provides real world examples for the concepts and practices it teaches.”

On the flipside, some readers have already adopted the strategies from the book into their own practices, such as Cartwright. “One engineering team just released a platform that they had been working on for months. To make the moment stand out, we used ideas from the book. In addition to public recognition, the team took a sailboat ride around the San Francisco Bay to highlight their achievement. These aspects of pride, elevation, and connection made this a moment these engineers will never forget.”

We hope you enjoyed the first month of HRreads! This April we dive in to our next book: Radical Candor by Kim Scott. Grab your copy of the book and join us to participate in discussions and share insights.

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