Recently, I was invited to speak to a class of new (almost) HR grads to talk about my HR path, my experience and what l had learned now that I was all grown up – insert heavy, dramatic sigh – because really? Are we ever really grown up? I sure hope not, but I digress…
Here are some of the tips that I shared with the eager, excited, enthusiastic crowd – what I like to call “Advice to my younger HR self”:
- Don’t be afraid to quit a job. People quit jobs for all sorts of reasons: their commute is too long, the work isn’t challenging enough, the workplace culture is toxic, they hate their manager or they don’t respect the leadership of their organization. Whatever the reason is, if your job is making you more unhappy than happy, then you need to make a change. Your health, wellness (and sanity) matters most.
- Know the business of your organization. Being knowledgeable about HR means squat if you don’t invest the time to develop knowledge about the business that you support. Understand the mission, the vision, and the values of your organization. Develop a sense of what your organization’s areas of strength are (what differentiates them from their competitors), where their blind spots are, where their weaknesses are and then figure out how you can help to turn those blind spots and weaknesses into strengths.
- Find strong mentors and role models. Find strong mentors who you can lean on, learn from be inspired by. Find mentors who have been in the trenches, who have enjoyed incredible success and who have suffered soul-crushing failures. Find mentors who will teach you, guide you, and be honest with you (even when it hurts).
- Relationships and Reputation are EVERYTHING. The two most important things that you build are your reputation and relationships. Spend time building, nurturing and cultivating both, and don’t compromise either. Relationships and reputations are built on trust, respect and integrity and they are the glue to getting stuff done. Find your tribe, love them hard and have their backs. Always.
- Balance. You need to balance the role of Coach and Disruptor. Sometimes, your role is to listen more than you speak, to offer sage advice and instructive counsel. At other times your role is to challenge the status quo, be bold, be brave and carve out a new path. Know your role. Know your audience. Pick your moment.
- Keep up. Keep up with the research, trends and best practices. Keep up with new technologies – figure out new and better ways of automating standardized tasks to improve efficiency and process. Keep up with everything but the Kardashians.
- Take Risks. Try new things. Push yourself (and others) out of the safe, comfy cozy zone. Sometimes, failure is the only option. Learning, evolving, growing is uncomfortable, it’s hard, and it’s painful – but it is so damned worth it.
- Trust yourself. When Jiminy Cricket said, “let your conscience be your guide”, he was on to something. Trust your values. Trust your gut. If something doesn’t “feel” right, nine times out of ten, there’s “something rotten in the state of Denmark”. If something or someone at work is causing you to lose sleep, if you feel like you are compromising your personal values or your integrity, run – don’t walk – to the nearest exit.
- Be you. Do you. Always. Being in HR doesn’t mean you have to adopt a stuffy, stiff mindset, be devoid of personality, or just be a nasty Nelly who follows the rules to a “T”. Know that these are the same people who gave your profession a bad name. Being a “good” HR partner means being trustworthy, approachable, having a sense of humour, seeing rules as guidelines and being a creative thinker and problem solver.
- Don’t ever lose the human in human resources. If you ever lose your ability to be authentic, to be genuine, to be empathetic, and to be compassionate, know that the sands in the HR hourglass have finally run out.
Interested in learning more about how you can encourage, engage and motivate new hires throughout your organization to excel in their role and career? Salopek & Associates offers workshops, training sessions and consulting support to assist organizations in developing a culture that encourages employee engagement, mentorship and continued learning. Contact us to learn how Salopek’s HR Consultants can share our expertise and experience to help your employees develop into the next top performers and leaders on your team.