"When you know your worth, no one else can make you feel worthless."
As I look back on my journey as an HR professional, look past the path of both success and failure as an HR professional; I see times of both exhilaration & despair walking the path. There are times when you are appreciated, you get a thank you note; there are equal times of rejection, venting and cold feelings. While deeply analyzing the walk through, I have clearly realized that there are few things that HR professionals must embrace to truly own your power & essence of your role.
During this journey and while talking to many ex-colleagues, HR professionals; I saw some common patterns, thoughts that echoed in my ears and made me ponder: Do we even realize our worth or do we live in the mercy of the opinions that people hold for this profession? Are we responsible for all the feedback that our profession gets or are we responsible for not being able to work towards a better mindset, a culture of good values such as acceptance, gratitude & appreciation for what HR is about?
There can be two things for totally strong opposite reactions for all the work that the HR professionals do: either you are too good at what you do & don't realize your worth or you don't know the right way of creating impact & value in the eyes of your stakeholders for all the work that you do and hence the mismatch in expectations. Whatever it is, the bottom-line is, you hold the power, the key is in your hands; you can unlock it. When things are slack, often HR is seen as no-concrete-value function, but when market regains shape, when hiring is at it's peak, when appraisal times are nearing, sentiments change and HR practices becomes important. Many call HR as the puppets in the hands of the management, similar to a pendulum who sways from one side having employee views of things and on the other side having the employer's perspective.You juggle between different views, different thoughts, numerous takes and finally when the work gets done, the credit is definitely not graciously given to HR. Do you agree? Well, my point here is not to make you agree to any of the above thoughts but to enable HR professionals to use this power to their benefit and make them realize that you are already standing on top of the gold mine, you now just need to unleash your inner wisdom, reflect on everything and create the awesome HR that resides in you, for which you had chosen this profession and nothing else. Recall the essence your role and embrace it fully. Let's explore what makes a great HR professional. When I say this, I also emphasize on your well-being as human and your growth too. For you to take care of everyone else, you must first take care of yourself at the core.
What makes a great HR professional?
1. The mindset that you hold about HR as a profession: It is imperative to have a positive mindset, how you see yourself as an HR and what you think you bring to the table. If you have a low self-esteem for yourself, if you feel stuck about the ways of working, if you feel that HR is just a support function; then you can't expect people to think any better than this. Ask yourself what is the deeper belief that you are holding about your profession? Do you consider yourself powerful enough to lead the pack or you want to follow? The choice is yours. The great HR professionals that I had come across during my stint believed in their work, led like a leader and chose not to succumb to unwanted pressure of being liked. They were there to serve people and not please. So, before you try to pick up any other attribute of being a great HR professional, do win the war within; that is very important for you to win the battle outside.
2. Being truly passionate about serving people: Do you consider people as resources which gets depleted over time or do you consider them to be an asset in which when you invest, grows? Passion is when you stand up for them when needed, when you influence decision making and enable stakeholders to see people as human capital and not commodity. Are you truly passionate?
3. Being aligned with the business objectives: At the end what is your broader goal? It isn't any ounce separate from where your organization wants to head to. HR strategies should be such that it promotes fulfillment of the broader vision of the organization. Every business has different goals, every HR practice must be tailored to those specific goals.
4. Being the leader & not just follower of instructions: If you fear losing your job, if you fear that if you speak up, chances are that you will loose being in the good books of your employer; then let me help you to recall what your role is all about. With such a mentality you will one day be no where. You are not doing justice to all those HR professionals who never appease top management to secure their job. They voice out and play a strategic role to bring about the desired change. They hold the power to influence and hence eventually leave a mark. Decide you want to see the big picture or play trivial. Only when you don't realize your worth, you will succumb to such scarcity mentality. As an HR professional, you are the people expert and you should be the one offering the strategic counsel & not the other way around.
5. Walk the talk, be the role model: Honoring commitments, promises, deadlines are important. You have to walk the talk & model, mirror the behaviour that you expect from others. When you design the policies, guidelines, it is important that before you make it public, you have to do that 10X times. Saying is not enough, you need to sense how it feels to actually do it.
6. Be a life-long learner: "Leadership & learning are indispensable to each other." - John F. Kennedy. Keep yourself updated. Do away with limiting behaviours, beliefs, old ways of workings. Be adaptable to new ones & open for exploration of your own gifts. Don't be limited to just one aspect of your function. Come out of your comfort zones.
Have a look at the graph below for more insights. Sourced from HBR.ORG
I would like to leave you with this task of looking at the picture above at the top, the title picture which says: I am ......... I invite you to fill up with what you feel about yourself and start practicing that daily.
Do feel free to add on more qualities of great HR professionals, or anything that came to your mind after reading this article. Let me know your way of thinking, your outlook.
Coach to People Leaders, Start-up Founders & Transitioning professionals