Human resources is at the heart of any organization. Taking care of your people is the key to a successful business, and that means HR professionals need to communicate, connect, and collaborate.
It’s not an easy responsibility—and there’s more to it than processing payroll, open enrollment, and recruiting. Plus, the constantly changing HR compliance and trends add complexity and new challenges every day. Thus, an agile HR strategy is necessary for a thriving workplace and growing company.
To help make human resources a “looking forward” arm of your business, we’ve asked some seasoned HR leaders for “experience sound bites” about why they love their profession and how it’s progressing.
Below is a collection of their insightful HR quotes:
What keeps you involved in the HR industry, and what makes you passionate about it?
“The HR industry, for me, is the best place to be in any organization. Because we are the ‘people’ side of the business, we can literally get involved in every aspect of our organizations. Finance is an expert in finance. Marketing is an expert in marketing. I'm an expert in people! It's never the same. There are always ways to improve and get better.” - Tim Sackett, @TimSackett
“I love the variety that each day brings. When you work with people, things are rarely the same. Being tied to the human dynamic of an organization makes HR different than every other profession.” - Steve Browne, @Sbrownehr
What do you feel has influenced you to be in and stay in the HR industry?
“Unlike many HR professionals, I actually chose to work in HR (versus ending up there by accident), because even almost 30 years ago, I felt like HR was the place to be if you wanted to have the ability to influence the most people in the organization. I still feel that way today! In my opinion, HR is the only department that has a direct responsibility for all employees in the organization, and has an impact on everyone in the organization. The key is to use that power for good, develop the ability to influence positive change, and ensure that the organization has the talent it needs to fulfill business objectives.” - Jennifer McClure, @JenniferMcClure
What is something HR departments often overlook?
“HR departments often overlook relationships that can pay dividends down the road. There's a history of HR Generalists and Business Partners (HRBPs) who focus their careers on developing competencies and scoring certifications while not having any friends outside of HR. Get yourself an ally in each major department throughout the company. Find one person in each territory or field office who has your back. And have theirs. That's the way to become an effective leader in HR.” - Laurie Ruettimann, @lruettimann
“Because HR is traditionally a support function that can be heavily administrative, I think many HR professionals fail to realize how important their expertise is to the organization, and its ability to remain competitive. In order to meet strategic objectives, the organization needs to have the right talent, in the right place, at the right time, and with the right skills. HR has direct responsibilities and influence over all of those areas. Regardless of your title in the organization, it's important to think strategically, and consider the overall impact that every decision you make (or don't) in HR has the ability to help—or hurt—the organization!” - Jennifer McClure, @JenniferMcClure
In your experience, what is a common mistake HR professionals often make?
“One of the biggest frustrations I hear about human resources is ‘I haven’t received an answer.’ Whether it’s from candidates wanting to know the status of their application or employees waiting to hear a reply to their policy question. Many people look to HR for answers and the worst thing we can do is not provide them. That being said, HR doesn’t always have the answers people want to hear. But we should provide the answers we have.” - Sharlyn Lauby, @HRBartender
“The biggest mistake I see HR professionals make is believing they are responsible for developing processes and then administering those processes. HR's job is about making the organization better. We do that through making our people better. You do that, as an HR pro, by getting out and working with those people to find out what it is the organization needs to get better. Then, you solve that problem! Very rarely, I've found, does that mean I need to develop a process!” - Tim Sackett, @TimSackett
What would you consider to be the greatest skill an HR professional can possess?
“Empathy. Human resources is in a unique position. They are employees and responsible for an ‘employee’ department. HR has the ability to create an employment experience based on the experience they would love as an employee. Unfortunately, it’s not always that simple and other things are involved, but it would be great if HR had the latitude to use empathy and create the ultimate employee experience.” - Sharlyn Lauby, @HRBartender
“The greatest skill an HR pro can have is being able to evaluate talent, then taking that evaluation to the level of development where they can work with hiring managers to better their teams. For me, that starts first with being able to self-evaluate. What is it that you're really good at, and what is it that you really need to improve? If you can't answer that in yourself, I find you probably can't answer that in other people.” - Tim Sackett, @TimSackett
“The greatest characteristics for someone in HR are: (1) Be authentic and genuine—employees want someone they can trust and go to, (2) Consistency—model the behavior you expect in others and you’ll see that HR becomes a lot more fluid and less structured and (3) Be connected—HR people tend to work in isolation and they should do their best to be connected to the greater HR community through social media platforms and organizations like SHRM.” - Steve Browne, @Sbrownehr
What tools have helped you to be the most successful throughout your career?
“While it's not necessarily a ‘tool,’ my network has always been the greatest source of success for me. I've never had all of the answers, but usually I know someone who has the answers I need. Maintaining positive relationships with people in a variety of industries and professions who are interested in your success—and you in theirs—is key to being able to access resources, and develop the credibility needed to deliver impact in your role.” - Jennifer McClure, @JenniferMcClure
“I’ve had great mentors who taught me the value of giving back to my profession and community. Some of them were volunteer leaders with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Others were on local boards and committees. I learned that the way to create change is by getting involved. So, if you want to change human resources, the best way is to get involved.” - Sharlyn Lauby, @HRBartender
What is the biggest accomplishment one can make as an HR professional?
“I think HR people need to own what they do and understand that they add value to a company. They need to understand that they are businesspeople who happen to work in HR. Making the human element of a company thrive is not only a goal, it’s essential to the success of any company.” - Steve Browne, @Sbrownehr
Building a workplace where employees feel comfortable and engaged will push not only them to succeed, but also your business—this is the essence of HR. And hopefully these tips & tricks will help support your growth as an HR professional too!
Here are the faces behind the HR quotes: