A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate to be able to attend the HRPA (Human Resource Professional Association) annual conference in Toronto. I was able to attend many keynote and concurrent sessions as well as network with a lot of really great HR folks. Overall, by HR conference standards, it was a pretty good conference. However, much like other HR conferences I have attended, it was inundated with the theme (again) that HR Pros needs to be more “strategic” and we have to stop doing “administrative” or tactical things if we want to be taken seriously. The other theme that I felt permeated throughout (from many of the concurrent speakers) was this concept that we as HR Pros always seem focused on labelling everything we do as either strategic or tactical.
As the readers of The Armchair HR Manager know, this topic is a bit of a burning platform for me. It simply drives me nuts that as a profession we spend so much time trying to label everything we do and then arbitrarily deciding that we must focus on the “strategic” stuff. What the hell does that even mean? I need to be more “strategic.” That is like saying, “I need to do good work.” Say what? It is all about balance people!
Here is how I am trying to change the conversation. Because I have the privilege in my role of being able to talk to many HR students, graduates and new(er) HR Pros, I am trying to get them to change their mindset. The minute this whole strategic/tactical conversation comes up I squash it – immediately. I am trying to turn the thinking around so that HR Pros are focusing more on adding VALUE in their roles. Of course, the value you add in a role as a junior HR Coordinator will be different then the value you add as an HR Manager; however, we all can add VALUE in our jobs and for our companies. This is what I am trying to impart on others in our profession. Stop labelling things and promote what it is you deliver on and how it positively impacts the organization you work for.
If someone struggles to identify how they add value, then that is where the conversation needs to go in terms of evaluating what they do and how they do it. Most HR Pros tend to trivialize what they do, the impact they make and how what they do adds value. Hell, half the HR Pros I know spend a large portion of their day making sure that managers in their organizations don’t end up causing a major lawsuit. So yes, applying their labour law knowledge and guiding/directing these managers ADDS VALUE.
So HR Pros, who is with me? Can we change the conversation a bit? Can we start to talk about how we add value? Let’s focus on the hundreds of things we know and do and connect/promote that value to our customers? Let’s refuse to self-deprecate and get into this whole strategic/tactical conversation. In fact, the word “strategic” is now banned from the HR Pro’s verbal toolkit. We can longer use it. How about that? Now what are conference speakers going to talk about? As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.
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