Posted by Cathy Reilly

BLOG_POST_IMAGE.jpgIf you’re not a fan of HGTV’s show ‘Fixer Upper’ set in Waco, Texas, most likely it means that you just haven’t watched it yet. Once you do, you’ll easily see why it’s one of, if not . . . the most popular show on HGTV and continues to break viewership records.

The show’s stars, Chip and Joanna Gaines work with a different client couple in each weekly episode to not only find them a great fixer upper home, but to then transform it into one of the best on the block inside and out. Their joy and talent in what they do is not only obvious, it’s infectious. And, their work product is outstanding. From an HR perspective, the couple has gotten a lot exactly right about how they perform their jobs that can be applied all day long in human resources.

Here are 5 reasons why:

  1. They talk turkey: Any construction project is going to have its share of problems, which also come with extra costs to remedy. Chip is usually the one that finds the glitch during the demo phase. His first call is to Joanna to discuss what he’s found and the options they have to fix it. Then Joanna typically is the one to make the call to the client with the news. Despite the stress of knowing they have to tell the client there’s a problem and it’s going to cost them more money to correct it, the calls are made without delay. It’s that “difficult conversation” (an all too familiar HR event) we’d all love to avoid having. With a perfect blend of understanding and sympathy, Joanna’s discussion is straight to the point about the problem and is followed by a range of solutions and associated costs. It also includes buy in from the client so they’re clear on the issue and there’s a sense of working through this in partnership. Focus is on the fix. There’s no dwelling on the issue, only on the next course of action in order to get to the desired result. 
  2. Their teamwork rules: Chip, with his realtor background finds the fixer upper homes to present to clients. During the walk-thru Joanna, a design visionary, presents the possibilities and her takes on breaking out walls, putting in French doors and molding, peeling things back to reveal original features (oh, the shiplap!) and repurposing rooms. Chip and his construction team provide the muscle and Joanna then fills the home with furniture and accessories. What results is always glorious. I’ve yet to see one of their fixer upper homes I wouldn’t want to move in to. Just goes to prove why collaboration is always better. Working together in harmony means more efficiency. It inspires new ideas and innovative solutions that all point to superior outcomes (all part of a stellar HR Dept.).

  3. They know flexibility: Opening up a home for remodel is filled with challenges and unforeseen issues. For most of us, it’s a totally scary thing! From experience, Chip and Joanna know to expect the unexpected and to be ready with Plan “B”, and if necessary, Plan “C” and so forth on down the line. They’re experts at the art of dealing with snags because they know it’s the nature of their business (snags are so HR) and that they have to be.  They’ve built upon the challenges thrown their way to become pro’s in flexibility and problem solving.  They know how to shift directions quickly when reality deals them tumbleweed. And, quite often, they come up with something even better because they’ve stayed calm and fixer upper’ d on.
  1. Their smiles delight: From start to finish, Chip and Joanna are always smiling. They love what they do and it shows. In fact, during some of the messiest demolition periods or seemingly impossible surprises that arise, they find humor. It’s these moments where they take a breath, share a joke and make lemonade out of lemons that are amongst the best on the show. They don’t let a problem overwhelm them. In fact, they seem to use comic relief because they know in the end, there’s always a way to make things work.  Let’s not forget also, that Chip and Joanna aren’t the only ones genuinely smiling. It’s their clients and viewers who are too (when HR smiles, so do employees!). That’s because the couple never loses sight of the fact that they want to make those they are providing service to happy.    

  2. They are relatable: The main appeal of the show is Chip and Joanna. Think about how many realtor and home design shows there are now on TV and have been for years. Why is ‘Fixer Upper’ such a growing mega-hit then? It’s solely because of its unassuming stars and how we can identify with them (HR all the way!).  Their banter, teasing and human-ness is so appealing. We not only see how they live and work, but importantly how they are as people. The show takes you to scenes in the chicken coop and teaching their kids about gathering eggs, offering a caring touch to a baby calf or explaining the wonder of growing food in your own garden. It takes you to Chip climbing through Joanna’s jam packed warehouse to retrieve the “perfect” piece of furniture for a project to Joanna’s explaining to Chip about her latest crazy idea to purchase and restore two giant abandoned silos for their future company headquarters and marketplace. We see the numerous outtakes of miscues and the fun when they flub their lines.  It’s really simply a matter of Chip and Joanna getting caught in the act of being real during the smaller moments that make up a day (Yes, this is "reality TV" that's edited, but I don't believe you can fake the small moments). It's from those moments that we can identify, and from where the Gaines’es have built something pretty special.  And, that’s why we tune in.

    Limiting this blog article to a list of 5 reasons why, was the most difficult thing about writing this piece. For now, I’m keeping the rest of my list handy for a future article(s). In the meantime, I’ll continue to watch the show and enjoy Chip and Joanna’s journey, their work results and their success along the way.  I’m starting to wonder, could a trip to their Waco Silos, now flourishing with business, be far behind?

Sources: Entertainment Tonight images, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFQKEpvRtNM

Topics: Management

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