It's Time to Step Up Your HR Game

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

  6. 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.


About the Author

Dorothy Douglass

1 Comment

Charles J

Well said. I just happen to know you do each of these very well and have taught me to do the same (or at least try). Your success is indicative that these traits are important to achieve more in the profession.

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