HR is always a day late and a dollar short.
-Chris Powell, CEO BlackbookHR
That comment from Chris Powell has stuck with me since our initial conversation, and I think it’s a reality we all need to be aware of and try to mitigate. Think of it this way — when someone asks finance, sales, or operations about specific facts, figures, and projections, they can typically throw out a ballpark answer within moments.
But for some reason, HR has always taken the “let me get back to you on that” approach. And that, my friends, is not a winning strategy.
One of the things I was taught early in my HR career is to always have the trusty response of “let me get back to you” ready for when someone asks you a question you don’t know. Over time, I have seen the use of that grow until it’s used on an almost daily basis as a way for HR pros to get out of conversations they are not comfortable with (discussions of revenue, sales, productivity or other hard numbers).
We can’t let that be a crutch any more. It’s time to start learning the business, having some insights ready to go, and being able to share information as quickly as other organizational leaders.
For instance, if someone asks the VP of sales how his numbers are looking, he can (more often than not) immediately respond with a good approximation of the current status. Think for a moment about how that compares credibility-wise when someone asks HR a similar question and we say, “Um, I’ll have to check and let you know.”
If there’s one thing that HR lacks in many organizations, it’s credibility. Who really listens to what you have to say? Do your managers, leadership team, and line staff have faith in your abilities to help lead the business, or do they see you as just another roadblock to getting work done every day?
Here’s the kicker–those of us in the HR space talk often about how to “get a seat at the table” or “develop a strategic HR planning process.” It’s because we want to know that we have meaning and value for our organizations.
But it’s rare to think about that in the context of employees. Yeah, you might be “strategic” and “aligned” with your organization, but how much faith does the average employee have in you? How do they perceive you?
If prompted, what value would the average employee say that you bring to the organization?
With that in mind, let’s check out this fantastic list of ideas from my new pal Stephen Tovey. It’s basically a how-to manual for demonstrating your value to all staff.
If we’re implementing strategies and practices to help our Companies achieve their goals, shouldn’t we make sure that the people that are going to be needed to to do things to achieve those goals know why? Shouldn’t they understand what is being asked of them? Shouldn’t they have an input? Engagement needs these things to happen, and where is the credibility of a people-strategy if the people being asked to “do” don’t respect or understand those doing the asking?
Create and maintain credibility:
Focus on all people, not just managers and the ones we think will help our career
Work to break down “us and them” and blame barriers
Support, develop, coach, mentor (do everything you can!) to up-skill managers to manage people
Communicate and promote what HR is doing and why. Be honest. Encourage input and opinion.
By being fair and consistent when dealing with all people
By challenging managers to be better, fairer managers, not accepting the status quo and not just going along with things
Be visible, be available, be empathetic
Make sure the workforce planning, strategic and “behind-the-scenes bits” are meaningful, relevant and appropriate
Listen to what people are saying to you. Feed it upwards. Make sure, if you’re not making the decisions yourself, that you influence those that are, or at least give them all the information.
There is a disparity between what we as HR professionals, whatever our level, do and how we see ourselves and what a lot of employees think we do and how they think we behave. Source
Let’s hear it for him. It’s something that desperately needed to be said. I love the points he makes, and his final sentence is the best closer I could have hoped for.
How we see ourselves and how our employees see us are two very different things. Learn what the gap is and work to eliminate it, if possible.
How do you maintain credibility for your HR function not only with your leadership, but with your line staff as well?
I’ve recently come across two great ways to make your HR metrics more powerful. It doesn’t require that you really do more of anything if you already collect and report on the numbers, so that’s what makes it so easy.
Stop collecting fuzzy stuff.
Just stop. Please. We really don’t need an exact number telling us how “happy” employees are. Stop collecting data on fuzzy stuff. Instead, consider average cost/time to hire, aggregate turnover costs, or something else that’s easy to grasp and understand its impact on the overall financial standing of the organization.
Report alongside other business data.
When it’s time to share those cold, hard facts, make sure the information is embedded in or grouped with other key financial indicators. Your numbers will instantly be more credible, and there’s a good chance they’ll be looked at (as opposed to dropping a separate “HR only” report at another time, which might signify the data isn’t important enough to be shared with other critical information).
Really simple to do. Surprisingly effective from the stories I’ve been told. What do you think?
Credibility. Some of us have it, and some of us don’t. Do you know how to establish credibility? What about how to maintain it for the long term? If you’ve lost it as a result of a dishonest action or some other similar factor, then that’s one thing, but it’s a whole other issue when you are starting from scratch. Today we’ll look at how to establish credibility when you have none to begin with.
(Note: this is a post in the HRYP (HR Young Professional) series. If you know a young HR pro, please pass this along to them. I’d appreciate it, and so will they! :-))
My thoughts on how to establish credibility
I get it. You have to build credibility over time by completing the work (and doing it well!) that is assigned to you. Well, what if you’ve mastered your work but your manager won’t let you do anything that requires more responsibility? I suggest carving out time each week (even as little as 30 minutes can make a difference) to work on things that stretch you and help you develop within your career. While it may not affect (or be appreciated in) your current job, it should be something valuable that can be used at some point in your career.
The other day I got my wife to watch an old movie with me called “City Slickers.” It’s about a group of businessmen who do a short stint as cowboys driving a herd of cattle in the Midwest. The trail boss (aka the guy running the show when they’re not on the ranch) describes the meaning of life as “just one thing.” That’s what inspired this post today.
Check out the short (2:21) video below for some of my thoughts on how to become indispensable by specializing in something that nobody else wants to do or knows how to do. Sure, you can (and should!) be good at multiple things, and as your career progresses, that number should increase. But when you’re starting out or trying to move up the career ladder, here’s my advice: be really great at one thing. I mention a friend in the video, Steve Boese, who is a pillar of the HR technology community. He’s really great attech, and people follow him for that specific reason. Just one example of thousands of professionals out there.
If you\’re a fan of Fistful of Talent (I made it into the top 1 zillion blogs over there at some point or another. Boo-ya!), then you may have seen the recent FOTV video where Kris Dunn, AKA the HR Capitalist, gave his rules for new HR professionals to succeed. While he had to be succinct in the video, I had the opportunity to discuss it with him in person recently. He reiterated his points and made sure that I understood completely where he was coming from. His main ideas are in bold, and my own commentary follows each point.
Know HR and Execute
If you\’re going to build some credibility as a new HR professional, then you\’re going to have to prove that you know your stuff. If you are a dunce when it comes to HR matters, then no amount of passion or people skills will get people to follow your lead. If you have to take some classes, get your certification, or just do more in the area of career development, don\’t let anything stand in your way from being knowledgeable in the HR arena.
Have an opinion. (passion=credibility)
Too many HR professionals are afraid to put their foot down and stick to their guns. If you want to show people that you\’re a wishy-washy, spineless drone, then don\’t ever take a stand on anything. And let me know how that goes for you. Probably not well.
Another point that he made in the video was that passion equals credibility. It was a quick comment mentioned in passing, but it was the phrase that struck me the hardest. Passion equals credibility. Is that really true for a new HR professional? If I\’m passionate about something, does that mean that I\’m automatically credible? I can\’t say that it will always be true, but I could make the case that if you\’re sufficiently passionate about a certain topic (HR, perhaps?), then you would certainly be credible as well.
Communicate in multiple ways
All too many of my generational brethren are completely incapable of expressing themselves. Whether it\’s face-to-face, written, or just verbal communication, each has a definite impact on your ability to succeed as a new HR professional. Know how to express yourself verbally, nonverbally, and in the written form. It will make an amazing difference. I\’ve always written fairly well, but once I started writing on a daily basis, I realized just how much better my overall communication skills had become.
So, if you\’re a new HR professional, and you\’re looking for some tips on how to be successful, then I think you should be focusing on these items at the very least. I think you\’d be surprised at how much of a difference it will make in your own career. And if you have another rule for new HR professionals, then please drop it in the comments below. I’m collecting these for an upcoming project, and I’d love to have more input.