“I enjoy interacting with people” and “I find satisfaction in assisting others” are commonly cited motivations for choosing a career in human resources. While these reasons provide a solid starting point, they may not suffice for achieving excellence in the field. With over 30 years of experience in HR, I have formulated key insights into what it takes to thrive in this profession. In the spirit of David Letterman’s countdown, I present the top 10 actions that, in my opinion, every HR professional should undertake to ensure success, listed in reverse order.
10. Have a Clear Vision: Understand what you want to achieve and why. Don’t rely solely on your organization’s definition of HR; explore the myriad possibilities through research and networking. Articulate your goals during interviews or within your current role, seeking input and buy-in from the leadership team.
9. Think Strategically: Align yourself with the company’s objectives by comprehending and supporting its goals. Transform HR into more than just a department, ensuring that employees at all levels grasp their role in upholding organizational culture and HR philosophies.
8. Enhance Communication Skills: Recognize that effective communication is pivotal. Emulate a speaker you admire, practice public speaking, and regularly report on HR achievements at employee gatherings. Use your communication skills to help others convey their messages more effectively.
7. Embrace Technology: Familiarize yourself with technology to enhance HR processes. Enroll in courses to grasp the terminology and methodology, enabling you to articulate ideas and engage in informed discussions. Leverage technology to implement robust HR information systems and applicant tracking systems.
6. Cultivate Flexibility: Foster curiosity to explore the unknown, adapting to industry changes. Stay informed through online research and networking, sponsor business meetings, and be open to trying new approaches. As a change master, lead discussions, influence change, and manage implementations effectively.
5. Grasp the Numbers: Understand budgeting and savings to advocate for necessary resources. Utilize return on investment analysis to justify proposed programs, demonstrating the financial impact of your initiatives.
4. Become a Strategic Partner: Earn a seat at the decision-making table by showcasing clear thinking, leadership, and business acumen. Collaborate with department heads, work across departments, and establish advisory groups to ensure the successful implementation of HR ideas and practices.
3. Get Out of Your Office: Increase your visibility by spending more time outside your office. Foster a positive perception of HR by being present where employees work, addressing issues proactively, and implementing an open-door policy.
2. Take Calculated Risks: Embrace risk-taking, recognizing its value in achieving success. Develop innovative recruitment programs and outreach initiatives, demonstrating the willingness to explore new avenues.
1. Inspire Others: Infuse passion into your HR approach, transcending the perception of HR as mere rule enforcers. Inspire an understanding of HR’s significance and how it can benefit individuals and the organization as a whole. By following these steps, you can evolve into a more effective HR leader. Adjust the order based on your priorities and organizational needs. Best of luck!