The Secret HR Competency: Playing Offense and Framing

by Kris Dunn | Posted | Learning

The Secret HR Competency: Playing Offense and Framing

Ever been in a company where a few important people thought HR could be better?

Ha! You and everyone else. So let's start this missive with two simple questions:

  1. Do you know the hot buttons of your C-Suite when it comes to what they want most out of HR?
  2. Do you update them proactively on these hot buttons instead of waiting for them to ask you for a progress report?

First things first: if you don't know the answer to the first question, bookmark this article for later and go ask the people who matter most what they seek from your HR team. This could be awkward if you've been with your company for more than a year so, if that's you, I recommend playing it off as "strategic planning". Nothing will take the focus off of you quicker than throwing that phrase around like a consultant.

HR is great at providing services and taking care of others but we're generally terrible at taking care of ourselves. Understanding what the top people in your company want from HR and delivering on those needs is imperative if you're going to maximize your HR career, and we don't talk about it enough as a profession.

Just as important as doing is telling people what you're doing - before they ask or complain.

I care so much about the secret of great HR that I wrote a book called The 9 Faces of HR: A Disruptor's Guide to Mastering Innovation and Driving Real Change. In doing the research for the book, I learned that there are many behavioral personas that can be successful in our field, but the most successful HR professionals don't wait to be asked for a talent solution to a business problem. They hear the need and they engage without being asked.

That's why the secret HR competency is playing offense and proactively framing.

What is "playing offense" as an HR competency?

What does playing offense in your HR career look like? Here are a few thoughts:

  • Not letting negative situations linger without trying to proactively resolve them, no matter how sensitive.
  • Being proactive with counsel to the people who need to hear from you, even if they didn't ask for your help or opinion.
  • Developing systematic approaches for recurring issues. In other words, taking the time to deal with an issue the right way and using this approach each time.
  • Confronting people who need to be confronted in a professional way while keeping the message clear.

Playing offense in your HR career is all about not being a victim. The world of work is a tough place, and what generally limits an HR pro's success (once someone has a certain level of talent and smarts) is their inability to act and communicate proactively, rather than waiting for questions or feedback from others.

Playing offense is a missing ingredient for many great HR pros. So where is HR dropping the ball?

We don't practice "framing".

What is framing and how does it lead to success?

Framing is getting your story out there as a professional. It's framing the dialog about who you are, what you're working on and, most importantly to you, how you're doing.

It's using a variety of communication techniques to ensure all know what you are working on including face to face communications, email, systematic reporting and more.

Framing includes:

  • Communicating what your goals are for a specific period.
  • Communicating your challenges and progress.
  • Communicating your wins and finished work products.
  • Communicating your opinions on happenings in your area of expertise.

HR pros who effectively play offense communicate all the things listed above repeatedly through various communication channels. They do this without being asked and without shame. Making the connection between talent programs and business outcomes is important!

For many HR pros, this will feel uncomfortable. It will feel like bragging. To those colleagues, I ask this: how's keeping quiet about your goals, progress and outcomes going? Not great, right?

Playing offense is the secret HR competency. Framing is the tactic on how to play the game.

You should frame more. Don't let others build the narrative about who you are or how you are doing - take responsibility for the story.

Framing is necessary for your career. Framing works. Do it and don't be shy.

How else can HR pros prove their value?

I'll be teaming up with Saba's VP of Communications and Brand Advocacy, Connie Costigan, to talk about how HR pros will be challenged in their career ladders in 2020 and beyond.

In the webinar, I explain how (and why) executives are testing HR's skills and abilities, why innovation is essential to achieving career success and some proven strategies for communicating HR's value to the rest of the organization.

Welcome to the C-Suite! 5 Conversations Execs LOVE to Use to Test HR Pros

Join this webinar to learn more about climbing the HR career ladder in 2020 and beyond.


Register Now
Cover of the book
Cover of the book

Welcome to the C-Suite! 5 Conversations Execs LOVE to Use to Test HR Pros

Join this webinar to learn more about climbing the HR career ladder in 2020 and beyond.


Register Now


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