HR Lessons From the Girl Scouts


March 23, 2013

This isn’t going to be a post about how to build a better campfire or how we can sing happily about our friends being like silver and gold.  I’m not going to compare earning Girl Scout badges to learning and development, although that may be a future post.  What I want to write about is the recent news that the Girl Scouts are discontinuing two cookie flavors in some areas….

Dulce de Leche and Thank you Berry Munch

With the cuts there is controversy and speculation.  Is it the economy?  Is it a calculated decision?  You’ll have to read the story to find out all the details.  The good news is that according to CNN, “The group’s most popular cookies — Thin Mints, Samoas, Tagalongs, Do-si-Dos, Trefoils and Lemon Chalet Cremes — will still be available everywhere.”

HR could take a lesson here.  We have all these great services that we offer that are our equivalent to Thin Mints.  Our Samoas.  But sometimes we get so far off track trying to create new programs that we loose sight of what our customers ,the employees, really want.  They don’t care about us rolling out the newest Dulce de Leche performance review tool, they just want to be able to measure performance.  They don’t want to try the Thank You Berry Munch recognition program, they just want a solid program that will last.  Why?  Because sometimes when you come up with gimmicks for programs it just seems too far to stray from the core things customers want.

Our customers want us to be accurate and available to guide them around:

  • recruiting and sourcing
  • compensation and benefits
  • managing performance
  • training
  • compliance
  • employee relations

So, stick with those “thin mint” basics, lose the gimmicks and know when to cut out those programs that really are not adding value to the key areas where employees and leaders need guidance.

As a side note….does anyone know where I can get my hands on some Thin Mints?   🙂


  • This reminds me of my post on why HR is like the yellow pages post from a couple of years ago in which I gave the following advice…

    1. Give your customers what they want more often than giving them what you think they need!
    2. Tell them what you are giving them.
    3. Tell them why.
    4. Tell them what they are supposed to do with it.
    5. Explain the freakin’ value proposition! They need to know “WITFM”? (What’s in this for me?)
    6. Review your customer communication channels. Check to see if messages are getting through.
    7. Check the trash for discards and figure out why that happened in order to fix it.

    • @Mike- Thanks for the link. You bring up some great steps that make it easy for a person or department to quickly establish how to properly care for your customers. I loved #1 the most!!!

  • Side note: I think the GSUSA are advocates of ROWE. Not to be a big dork, and you’ll have to check me, but I think the corporate staff believes in trust & accountability.

    FYI: Thin Mints outside of the Hallmark Store at Brier Creek if you want to drive 1,000 miles.

    • @Laurie- Thanks for the GS facts. All I remember is what I learned from being one about a zillion years ago. They definitely taught girls about trust and accountability so I’m certain the corporate staff believe it too. Oh, and Brier Creek….sounds like it’d be worth the drive for the mints! 🙂

  • I think HR practitioners sometimes feel that they have to come up with additional programs to show their worth. Not true. Do what you need to do well and everyone benefits.

    By the way, I am a cookie mom and Dulce de Leche and Thank U Berry Much hardly sell in my area.

  • This is a great message Trish. HR needs to think strategically, not transactionally. What is our (HR’s) core business. You have outlined them very succinctly.

    • @Jay- Thanks. It seems so easy to get sidetracked on projects that stray far from our core business. Nice to have a reminder to focus now and then.

  • Ahhh, the similarities between HR and the Girls Scouts are uncanny on so many levels….

    Two of the biggest pitfalls of HR practices: 1) trying to be everything to all people and 2) feeling like we need to reinvent ourselves every 5 years or so to add value to the organization. More often than not this equates to one huge fail…and a lot of wasted effort. Stick with what you know and do it better than any one else can.

    Thanks, Trish!

    • @Charlie- Thanks for that comment. I love you’re line, “Stick with what you know and di it better than anyone else can.”. I’m putting that one up in my office!!

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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