Working in human resources requires more than party planning skills and the ability to alphabetize personnel folders. From comprehensive talent management philosophies to complex workforce planning strategies, today's modern HR professional must be willing to shed her sensible blazer and chunky jewelry and wear a new uniform to help businesses achieve their goals.
If you're wondering what makes up this new uniform for the modern HR professional, read on...
HR needs to be self-motivated
There is no CHRO or SVP of human resources who will fly down from the heavens, present a brightly colored road map, and describe the six key steps you must take in order to earn the trust of your business colleagues.
The best human resources generalists and recruiters are independent, savvy, and looking for inspiration in traditional and non-traditional places. SHRM and HRCI offer great professional development resources; however, those resources will only go so far. Business industry conferences, professional colloquiums, and local Chamber of Commerce events are great ways to help you develop a strong network of people who can help you to elevate your game. It is never a bad idea to find global colleagues on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, either.
HR should be great under pressure
Work can be a tough environment. I often tell young recruiters and HR generalists that the first thing they always hear is wrong, regardless of who is speaking - employees, supervisors or CEOs. It doesn't matter how quickly you arrive at a solution if the solution is wrong. The best HR professionals listen, ask questions, and then move judiciously to a thoughtful solution.
Great HR departments are flexible
The biggest problem for many HR departments is a problem of perception. Human resources professionals are seen as strict, rigid and unyielding. Yes, there is a right way and a wrong way to run a business; however, HR isn't a department of lawyers. At best, we advise. So never make the mistake of sacrificing creativity for precedent. You can be consistent and fair, and uphold both the letter and spirit of employment law, while realizing that every employee situation is different. Always look for win-win solutions that make everyone feel good.
Modern HR must be tough
Like most adults, I was taught to avoid talking about religion, politics and sex in polite company. Then I accepted my first job in human resources at a candy factory on the north side of St. Louis and everyone talked about religion, politics and sex. Off-color language was used by VPs, supervisors and employees alike.
The best HR professionals are
Nobody takes direction from someone looking for direction. You don't have to employ a department of Napoleonic tyrants; however, HR should hire strong and sophisticated Human Capital Management professionals who love their jobs and want to make HR better. Good things will flow from there.
Lots of people have an opinion on the future of HR, but I think you could do a lot worse than to be considered a self-motivated HR leader who is flexible, tough, confident, and works well under pressure. Pay attention to political trends and be aware of risks in your organization, but remember to have a little fun - and demonstrate a little passion - along the way.
Very simply, the decision to shed the sensible blazer and chunky jewelry is entirely up to you, but sometimes a new uniform can work wonders for your career.
Your turn: Are there any other key attributes of a modern HR professional you would add?