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8 Simple Secrets to HR Success

HR Career adviceIn my ongoing campaign to help equip and support our current and upcoming HR Pros, I wanted to share some simple ‘secrets’ that I hope will help you/them in your/their current and upcoming roles within HR. At the end of the day, much like many professions, what you “know” in terms of your HR expertise can be learned. In fact, the interesting thing about HR, is that people with many diverse educational backgrounds can and do “learn” HR. Now this doesn’t necessarily make them “good” at HR, the same way that someone who has a degree/diploma in HR doesn’t automatically become “good” at HR either.

In my experience though, there are a handful of things that HR Pros can do to realize success in their careers and it has nothing to do with your (direct) HR knowledge. Here are some simple secrets to HR career success:

  1. Continuously build relationships – as an HR Pro, your organizational influence goes as far as your internal network and relationships that you have built. To that extent, you need to always be building and nurturing relationships – at all levels. Whether it is with your boss, the head of the organization, departmental heads, line staff or most importantly, the receptionists and admin assistants…you need to build those relationships!
  2. Discretion and confidentiality – if you can’t maintain these two things and/or be known for your ability to be discrete and confidential, you won’t have a long career in HR.
  3. Always be learning – keep learning about your company’s products and services. Keep up to date on your industry, your competitors and the governmental landscape. Of course, it goes without saying, keep up to date in the changes in your profession. As an HR Pro, if you aren’t learning, you aren’t relevant.
  4. Find trusted advisors – whether internal or external to your company, you need to have a small network of folks that you can go to for advice and to act as a sounding board for you. Without breaking confidentiality, you need to be able to go to some key folks for counsel, to throw ideas against the wall and to get some advice of your own. Make sure you build this into your support network.
  5. Find a work buddy or two – HR can be a lonely place. You don’t want to be seen as the company stooge and nor are you the employee advocate. You need to balance the two interests. To that extent, HR can be awfully lonely sometimes. Find a workplace buddy or two that you can decompress with. This should be someone at your level or above. Again, nothing that betrays confidentiality, but someone you can talk to, to show your human side. Your mental health will thank you for it.
  6. Be present and available – in terms of your dealings with staff and managers, you are ALWAYS being watched and judged. That is, staff is looking to see if you are being genuine and interested in their concerns and issues. You need to actively listen and have a vested interest in what they are telling you. The quickest way to NOT have employees talk to you – show them you are not interested (bored) in what they are saying. Once employees stop talking to you, you will no longer have the pulse of your organization.
  7. Hang out with the smokers – no seriously, I learned this one early on in my career and one of my favourite bloggers, Tim Sackett, has reinforced this idea as well. I am not telling you to start smoking or inhale 2nd smoke, but the more smokers you know and talk to, the more you will know about your company and what is going on. At the very least, if you are a manager, make sure one of your HR employees does this. I once had an HR Manager work for me who was a smoker and I tell you, I was NEVER caught off guard with what was going in inside our organization!
  8. Be known for getting sh*t done – this can be done in a variety of ways, but you will realize a lot of organizational success if you can be known as the HR person that gets stuff done. “Stuff” can be as simple as making a decision. No kidding – take ownership of something and make a damn decision – your employees and managers will love you for it. Don’t be known as the HR person that has to run EVERYTHING up through 3 layers of management – they could do that themselves. Make a decision, remove an obstacle or facilitate something. Be the HR Pro that knows a bit about setting up a basic website, or setting up audio equipment or troubleshooting some basic IT issues. I am not kidding – having a bit of knowledge in some other area not related to HR instantly boosts your credibility and organizational utility.

What about you? I would be interested in knowing what other secrets you have that have allowed you to realize HR success. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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