In preparing for my birthday this year, I spent some time researching all of the places that offer free meals (yeah, Denny’s!), planning time with my family, and planning to respond to everyone who said “Happy Birthday” on Facebook. After all this was done, I started to realize that I was getting old(er). So, instead of wallowing in my “old age,” I started thinking of wisdom I could share. As a result, I pondered the amazing time I’ve spent in human resources and came up with four things I’ve learned, and I think every HR professional should know, too.
1. Read books from major HR thought leaders. Too often my desk would get filled up with lots of HR magazines (Workforce, HR Magazine, Benefit Advisors, HRO today, etc.). The challenge is that although each one is a great read, I learned to view them as the evening news. Realize you are just getting the highlights. These magazines are still relevant and important but don’t let them be your only reading. Whatever your specific HR focus area is, I encourage you to find thought leaders specific to your area. Often they are academics who bring additional perspectives, research and case studies to the table. Here are some of my favorites:
- Global HR – Claus Lisbeth
- HR Metrics – John Boudreau, Wayne Cascio
- HR Strategy – David Ulrich
- Organization Development – Mehrdad Baghai
Don’t get caught up in just reading the most popular HR books – really look for the key thoughts in your area.
2. Read magazines from other fields. Since HR by itself can’t be a business, I found it was helpful to better understand the world of business as a whole. So, I subscribe to a couple of other magazines, which often have HR content in them: CFO Magazine and Foreign Affairs. CFO provides a great overview of what CFOs are focused on, which surprisingly mentions talent scarcity a lot. Foreign Affairs often covers key economic and global trade issues, which impacts business strategy.
3. Get involved in the local HR community. Another lesson I learned a little later in my HR career was to get involved in the local SHRM chapter. This has been tremendous on a number of levels. It is great camaraderie and a wonderful way to learn and hear HR perspectives from different companies. But most of all, it provides a great network that you can reach out to for support.
4. Use your HR powers for good! Being a HR practitioner is amazing because your focus is on making people’s lives better! Either you are trying to help them find the right career, develop skills to grow, set up the right compensation structures for them, help them learn how to live healthier, etc. But, sometimes we can get too close the job, and start fretting about the next fire drill, problem employee, etc. You may think you aren’t making an impact. For me, I have found volunteering has made all the difference. In those times when I wonder if change is occurring – I can lean on those specific situations where I know I was blessed enough to touch an individual’s life and make a positive impact.
So, if you happened to be at a Denny’s and saw a really happy guy with his family celebrating his birthday, perhaps you saw one of the happiest HR guys!