12 Feb In HR, Strategy Matters Every Day
In HR, being a generalist requires you to wear somewhere between 10 to 1,000 hats at once: Take open requisitions, source candidates, interview them, extend a job offer—repeat. Every. Single. Day. Variety is the norm, and it isn’t always your friend. It’s very easy for the pace of a “regular” day to come crashing down on you in ways you never anticipated. If you ask HR professionals what they do, the standard answer is, “I put out fires.” Think about that statement. If that’s the only thing you do, you’re being reactionary. Granted, unanticipated issues will come up, but if everything is in flames, there are too many fire hazards in your “house.” Also, if your company hired you only to fight fires, you need to question how it views the HR function in the first place. Your job shouldn’t be to sit by a large, red phone anticipating the next emergency. For the past 15 years, HR has yearned for the mythical “seat at the table.” Countless books, magazine articles, blogs, and conference presentations are devoted to this idea. We look at this seat as some crowning achievement that will finally validate who we are and what we do. The problem is that our seats will remain empty as long as we continue to practice transactionally versus strategically.
In other words, if we’re always fighting fires, we can never get ahead of our circumstances. The unfortunate reality is that most HR practitioners don’t function in a strategic manner. We tend to have people come to us—but the reason is rarely for our input, business insight, or brainstorming about solutions to issues facing the organization. When you’re in a position in which people view you as someone to engage only when needed, you’ll never be seen from a strategic vantage point. To be honest, this realization is disheartening, and it’s become an almost insurmountable barrier for many HR professionals. It’s understandable that many throw in the towel. It doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, we need to stand up and push back. Quit yearning to be seen as strategic and be intentionally strategic in all you do!!
You can start through one simple practice—be a connector. Instead of jumping from person to person and opinion to opinion, step back, and see the different components and people who are interacting. Evaluate where connections can occur. Doing this will give you a broad perspective, and you won’t get buried in minutia. Bringing various people together can do so many positive things. It encourages work across departments and teams. It shows workers how they are all interconnected and interdependent. It facilitates different perspectives that lead to more holistic business solutions. So put the ax, coat and fire helmet away, and pick up the clipboard or tablet. Decide today to spend time with people in their environment so you’re no longer seen only as of the principal’s office where people come when they’re troubled.