The start of a new year always gives me pause to reflect on the past year – including accomplishments, where I fell short, expectations, and results. Then I turn, mostly fearlessly, and look to the future and consider what are the expectations for HR for in our organization.
We are well into the new year now, and I am thinking about HR professionals and what steps we can take to become more strategic, get a seat at the table, and be seen as a strategic partner, and not an administrative task team?
Here are six ways to step up your game:
- Be known for getting tasks done. Get them done quickly, effectively, and accurately. This is the first step toward becoming a strategic player/partner. If you cannot execute the HR tasks accurately and timely it is unlikely you will get the chance to contribute at a higher level.
- Take on additional work – even if it’s not HR-related. Don’t wait for work to come to you. What are some of the bigger picture things that need to be done in your organization that aren’t strictly listed in someone’s job description? Start small and take on a few hard-to-get-to tasks for your boss. Be sure, though, that once you take them on, you execute them.
- Hone your listening skills. One way to make yourself more valuable to the organization, and to make HR be seen in changing light, is to make sure you are listening in all those meetings you attend. Is IT is having a hard time getting to that new intranet project because they are under-staffed? Offer meaningful solutions.
- Develop yourself & develop your team. Always be sure you are continuing to learn about your organization & about HR. Be open to learning, ask for it, and by all means, engage your team by ensuring they, too, are learning. Continually.
- Understand the business of your
business.Understand what your company does and what the financial impacts are. It’s going to be significantly easier to interview job candidates for openings, contributing to the organization and for dealing with the people issues that come about, if you understand the business.
- Network inside & outside. Become involved in your community and remember that everyone you meet, talk to on the phone or in person, is a possible contact for you. Consider using LinkedIn to further connect with HR and business professionals, potential clients, vendors, and potential employees.
Above all, be accountable. If someone on your team messed up, make sure you address it with them, set an expectation for the next time and then take ownership of the mistake as you communicate upward. At the end of the day, HR is your responsibility in your organization – and it doesn’t matter, who, what, why, when or how. When something goes right, point the finger at your team, when something goes wrong, point the finger at yourself. Apologize, learn, and move forward.
I have to sometimes step back and remember many, if not all of these thoughts on occasion. It’s hard work, but HR can and does make companies better – it’s not all ‘bad guy’ and ‘black hats’ for HR professionals! Go forth, Women of HR, and build a successful team!
About the author: Color me officially graduated from the 3-year Graduate School of Banking, University of Wisconsin, Madison. As an HR executive, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever loved doing. I wouldn’t trade the blood, sweat, & tears of that experience for anything! I have a whole new cadre of knowledge, and better yet, an extended network of colleagues I can call upon at any time! I love having a “seat at the table,” and am still learning my way around the executive suite. Yes, I’m 51-years old. Still learning.
Typically over the holidays I end up watching a lot of television. This time of year there are always season finales and competitions and other things to catch up on, and for me this year was no exception.
Based upon the things I saw, I’m convinced that 2013 will be the year for women.
Why? Well, because women were hugely showcased at the end of the year, in ways and in places that were surprising.
First, Alex Guarneschelli won the Next Iron Chef, Redemption competition. For those that don’t know much about the world of haute cuisine, there are few female chefs, and where women exist, they are often not at the top. But this time, the final two chefs in the competition were women, and they cooked their hearts out. The best part about the finals is that both Alex Guarneschelli and fellow finalist Amanda Freitag made it without special consideration. They made great dishes, period.
Second, the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors show performance was carried by awesome women (even though the deserving recipients were with one exception, men). Think about this. Tina Fey’s tribute to David Letterman was funny, poignant, and quintessentially spoken as a woman, even though David Letterman, by all accounts, is not. Bonnie Raitt, a trailblazer in her own right, performed Buddy Guy’s Sweet Home Chicago with a raspy finesse that only she can do. And Heart’s Ann and Nancy W
ilson, the bedrock of the women’s rock movement, belted out Stairway to Heaven in a way that not only respected Led Zeppelin but brought new significance to what is arguably the greatest rock tune ever written.
So women adding new context to the traditional; I like that. It seems a lot of other people did also.
Is this a trend? I hope so!
From a human resources perspective, I wonder what 2013 will bring for women. As barriers break and as it becomes more normal, and less novel, for women to contribute unique things to our workplaces at the highest level—all the better. We need to think about a people movement.
That said, it will be a good thing when articles and blogs like this no longer have to be written, when women’s achievements are not unique or noteworthy as a women’s achievement. Until then though, I look forward to seeing and hearing about all the occasions when women rocked it.
Here’s to 2013.
About the author: Bonni Titgemeyer is the Managing Director of The Employers’ Choice Inc. She has been in human resources for 20+ years and works in the international HR arena. She is the recipient of the 2012 Toronto Star HR Professional of the Year Award. You can connect with Bonni on Twitter as @BonniToronto, often at the hashtag #TEPHR.
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The employment situation for Veterans in our country is serious. The current unemployment rate among recent Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans is well above the 9.1 percent rate for the country at large. While the overall unemployment rate for veterans of all generations is 8.8%, for young veterans it was 13.3% in June.
While military and veterans’ groups are pressing congressional leaders to quickly pass legislation, President Obama’s and Congress’ efforts to helping Veterans find work has proven difficult. “A major hiring initiative launched by the Obama administration to get Veterans into the federal workforce resulted in a net increase of just 2,000 more Veterans being hired,” reports Rick Maze in ArmyTimes.com.
Being in staffing and human resources, our part is to start to understand the value of a candidate’s military background in practical terms and educate hiring managers. The volunteer based model of our country’s armed services makes the military unfamiliar to most of the population. The amount of people in active duty represents only about one-half of one percent of Americans. Does that mean that we are so far removed by what happens while on duty that it is difficult to translate that experience into transferable skills?
In his book, If Not Now, When?, Medal of Honor recipient Colonel Jack Jacobs (Ret.) says this of his move from the military into the financial world,
“In many ways, structuring and selling investments to institutions like banks, insurance companies and pension funds was very different from defending the county. But by almost every objective measure, it was easier to devise, buy and sell investments than to kill people … To an infantry soldier, determining the volatility of a derivative transaction or the risk-adjusted return of a large portfolio of mixed assets is far easier than devising a plan to destroy a well-entrenched battalion and then motivating a bunch of petrified twenty-year-olds to do it.”
The recent royal visit to Los Angeles highlighted the issue as William and Kate attended a job fair for veterans. Sponsored by organizations such as Bank of America, the USO and SHRM, www.missionserve.org is working to “solve the problem.”
With the diverse group of Women of HR across the country, what unique perspective do you have? Is there a solution in sight?
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Ready. . . set . . . go!
Wake at the very last moment (after hitting the snooze button 4 times), jump in the shower, slap on some clothes, drive as if you are NASCAR qualified, show up right at 8 a.m. and you are ready to begin work.
Stop. Wait a second. It is not that simple. And whoever thought “it” would be is in complete denial.
What am I talking about? Workforce Readiness.
I recently accepted a Human Resource consulting project for a startup company. I am not just any Human Resource consultant, I am the company’s first human resource presence. And I am thrilled to be back at work. My thoughts, opinions and knowledge are being sought after, listened to, valued and executed upon. I am a walking, talking and breathing workforce readiness poster!
All right, I will not go that far, but I was ready (nervous but ready) to tackle the new challenges that awaited me. While in transition I prepared myself by staying abreast of my profession, volunteering, reading trade journals and every other imaginable method to be workforce ready – and it paid off.
The Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) defines workforce readiness as,
Having new workplace entrants prepared to enter the workforce with the requisite knowledge, skills, abilities and attributes in order to engage in endeavors that will be required in their respective occupations.
In other words, workforce readiness means showing up. Not just literally showing up at 8 a.m., but showing up fully engaged in mind and in spirit.
I was initially hired to fill a couple of key hires and my presence has been slowly revealed. I have been fortunate to sit at the table and have my voice heard when it comes to key hires and when coaching management in the fine art of Human Resources. When an organization becomes aware of the Human Resource presence, they reach out to as the voice of reason, equity and fairness.
When an organization views Human Resources as a basic but crucial function, wonderful things begin to occur. The organization begins to flourish, human capital is developed, forward thinking change occurs and genuine character emerges. But, when an organization views Human Resources as a transactional and an operational function, the organization can find itself stagnated, not allowed to develop at any level and Human Resources becomes nothing more than a request processing center.
So what is the secret?
Well, I affectionately call it Organizational Glue. Let’s face it, human resources is a company’s Organizational Glue. ”Organizational” is synonymous with configuration, establishment, composition or institution and ”glue” is defined as any substance used as a strong adhesive. Put a fully engaged, workforce ready human resource team in place and you have the strong adhesive that bonds the establishment together.
The moral of this story is this – an organization knows the value of a first rate Human Resource team and you really begin to comprehend and see the significance of Human Resources - your organizational glue - and when Human Resources is not present, underserved or undervalued well, it might just be too late. It’s up to the human resource team to be workforce ready.
Is your HR Organizational Glue ready . . . set . . . go?
Photo credit iStockphoto