I used to deliver training sessions for our managers who were new to their HR job. This was a two-day training session we did at Quaker Oats and it included our best up-and coming HR leaders. There were 56 things that we’d tell them they needed to do in order to be successful. It included how you interview job candidates, coach and counsel, hold career discussions and do performance reviews.
As I would get up to conclude the training, I knew from past experience that it wasn’t possible for these people to remember everything. So I would wrap up by saying that there are three things that matter in any HR job.
The first is competence. Focus on being the best in your HR job — whether you’re a generalist or in compensation or labor relations. Reach for the higher standard. This means focusing on the job you have, not on the job you want, and committing to grow your skills to become great at what you do.
The second is confidence. While it’s great to ask questions to gather data in an employee investigation, your clients want to know what you think. Leadership is about having a point a view and sharing it. So you have to have enough confidence in yourself to regularly and unabashedly put your own perspectives and ideas on the table in tough situations.
The third is caring. No one individual can accomplish great things in large, complex organizations. Success requires collaboration. And at the end of the day, it’s giving a darn and partnering with your clients and your colleagues and recognizing that it’s the people around you are the ones who make you look good in your HR job.
I’ve tried to adhere to these three simple rules in every HR job I’ve held. And, I’ve found over the years that they are as true for those new in their HR job as it is for the senior vice president in HR.