There’s been much debate recently about the need for the HR profession to step up a gear and prove the valuable contribution it can make to a business.

But what do HR professionals need to do personally to win the respect of their management colleagues, build their skill level, and put themselves on a career trajectory?

Here are five ways HR people can raise their game and prove their worth.

Get strategic

It’s an accusation that is made of HR people again and again – they are simply just not perceived as strategic players. Now it’s easy to get defensive, and there are of course many HR professionals with excellent business nous who are operating at the top table. But it’s probably also true to say that there are a fair number who struggle to find the best way to achieve this status. A useful approach is to start with the data; if you can use your HR data to uncover trends or opportunities, and match those with the markets, the issues and the direction the organisation is headed in, you’re likely to gain the ear of those that matter. The key is to do the research, ask the right questions and network. Get alongside the people who can give you deep insight into what the business needs and how you can really add value.

Be a business partner

HR people are often seen as ‘gate-keepers’ as opposed to enablers within a business; managers seldom regard them as people who can help them attract and retain the right talent and run their teams or departments more effectively. More often they are worried that if they raise an issue with HR they will get bound up in endless bureaucracy and will have barriers put in the way of what they want to do to move the business forward. If they are to shake off this image, HR people need to become problem solvers and position themselves as people who can support line managers rather than get in their way. You’ll find the best HR people out there in the business on a daily basis, finding out what it’s really like at the front line and working closely with other functions to develop new insights and approaches.

Get Tech Savvy

If you have any doubt about the importance of HR technology, remember what HR legend Dave Ulrich said when describing the key competencies needed for success in HR:

“To be successful HR professionals must be technology proponents who use technology for efficiency, to connect employees, and to leverage new communication channels, e.g., social media.”

It is important that HR takes the lead in identifying and implementing solutions. HR professionals will understand better than IT what the business needs, and by implementing solutions that help streamline HR processes and cut down on unnecessary admin, you’ll quickly establish your credentials as a leader.

Manage your own career

You’ve probably heard the old saying about how hairdressers always have the worst hair and builders never finish renovating their own houses – it’s pretty much the same for HR. They invest a huge amount of time and effort in helping other people manage their careers, but have a tendency to ignore their own. If you’re serious about proving your worth as an HR professional you need to be investing in your own continuing professional development, playing an active role in your professional association, and keeping up-to-date with the latest thinking. It’s about becoming the best you can be in your current role – as well as demonstrating ambition and keeping an eye on the next opportunity.

Look after your own well-being

There’s no doubt that HR people are under an enormous amount of pressure. They’re typically expected to do everything from issuing contracts and writing policies, to driving employee engagement and leading on talent. HR departments are often under-resourced and under-funded, and as a consequence, professionals can find themselves working long hours and struggling to keep all the balls in the air. As an HR person, you’re probably concerned with the well-being of employees, but are you taking enough care of yourself? HR people need to pay attention to their work-life balance and their emotional and physical health. It’s important for you personally – but also a great opportunity to role-model a sensible approach to the rest of the business.

What do you think HR people need to do to become superstar within their businesses? Let us have your thoughts in the comment box below or tweet us at @CezanneHR.

You may be interested in reading how how HR can become the ‘enablers’

Erika Lucas author image

Erika Lucas

Writer and Communications Consultant

Erika Lucas is a writer and communications consultant with a special interest in HR, leadership, management and personal development. Her career has spanned journalism and PR, with previous roles in regional press, BBC Radio, PR consultancy, charities and business schools.

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