How can you become a great HR/TA Pro?

I met an aspiring HR college student recently. The question was asked, “Tim, how can I be great at HR?” I told them to buy my book and read my blog and that’s really all there is to it! Just kidding, I said something after that as well! 😉

It’s a great question that ultimately has very little to do with HR or Talent Acquisition. To be great at HR, or anything, rarely do you have to be great at that certain skill set. For some things, it’s important: doctor, lawyer, accountant, etc. But in most professions, you can learn the skills, so it’s about these other things that I told this young Padawan:

Go deep on a few things. The world needs experts, not a generalist. Don’t kid yourself to think being a generalist is really what your organization wants. People say this when they are an expert in nothing. Be an expert in something and a generalist in a bunch of stuff.

Don’t be super concerned with what you’re going deep on, just make sure it interests you. While it might not seem valuable now, at some point it probably will be. I’m not in love with employee benefits, but someone is and when I need help with that I’m searching for that person.

Consume content inside and outside of your industry. Those with a never-ending appetite to learn are always more successful.

Connect with people in your field outside of your company. We are in a time in the world where your network can be Pitbull Worldwide! Use that to your advantage. There is someone smarter than you a thousand miles away just waiting to help you.

Just because someone older and more experienced than you might think something is unimportant, don’t give up on it. We all get used to what we are used to. Older people think Snapchat is stupid and it might be, but it also might unlock something awesome in our employment brand. Experience and age are super valuable until they aren’t.

Constantly make stuff and test it. Some of it will fail, most of it will be average, some of it will be awesome. Give yourself more chances for awesome! Don’t let someone tell you, “we tried that three years ago and it didn’t work”. Cool, let’s do it again, but this time change the name!

Take a big chance early in your career. Find a company that you absolutely love and just find a way to work there in any position, then be awesome for a couple of years and see what happens. Working for a brand you love is beyond the best career feeling you’ll have.

Don’t expect to be “HR famous” overnight, but the work you do right now will make you HR famous ten years from now. Do the work, fall in love with it, the fame will come down the road. “I want to blog and speak just like you, Tim!” Awesome, I started doing this a decade ago. Let’s get started right now!

Don’t discount social skills in the real world. You can be the smartest most skilled person in the room, but the one with a personality is the one people will pay attention to. This is a skill that can be learned and constantly improved upon if you work at it.

Spend time with Great HR and Talent pros. No one is really hiding their secret sauce, you just aren’t asking them questions. The key in spending time with others is not asking them to invest more in helping you than you’re willing to invest in making it happen. I get asked weekly for time from people who rarely are willing to help me in return.

Get Tech Savvy. This does’t mean you need to learn to code, but you have to be comfortable with the capabilities and advances that technology is having on your specific field. You should demo technology consistently. You should put yourself in a position where you feel knowledgeable enough to make technology decisions for your function, so someone else is not making these decisions for you. Especially as a young professional, because most old pros won’t have this skill and few have any desire to acquire this skill late in their career.

Okay, as internships are concluding for the summer let’s help these aspiring professionals out! Give me your best advice in the comments!

You could just say “Yes!” to everything!

I tend to say “Yes” at about a ten to one clip of saying “No”. So far it’s worked out well for me. Most of the time I’m not quite sure what’s going to happen when I say “Yes”, but it usually works out just fine. Some of the coolest things I’ve ever been apart of were because I just said “Yes” and didn’t worry about the details.

What can go wrong when you say “Yes”? 

  1. You can take on too much and get overwhelmed and stressed out
  2. You could be taking time away from more important things in your life: family, working on stuff that is more financially viable, you-time, etc.
  3. You hate the thing you said “Yes” to,
  4. Some moron will try and take advantage of you.

What can go right when you say “Yes”? 

  1. You might actually find some really great stuff you love.
  2. You might meet and work with some awesome folks you never knew.
  3. You might find some business opportunities you didn’t expect.
  4. It just feels better in your soul to say “Yes” to others.

I’ll be honest, I probably say “yes” too much. I often have people try and take advantage of my propensity to say “Yes”. Will you do this thing? Sure! And then that “thing” takes up a lot of my time that is valuable, and the time I’m giving up is mostly benefiting the other person, and there is probably nothing they’ll do for me in return.

Pro-bono work feels great until it doesn’t.  It’s when I start questioning my life strategy of saying “Yes”. Everyone wants some free work from you, believing that it’ll all work out for the best in the long run. Which in truth, it usually does for the person getting the free work!

How can you say “Yes” more, but stay sane? 

That is really the question, right?

I think the biggest thing is to have personal boundaries you don’t compromise. Knowing when the “yes” becomes a “no more”. The reality is people aren’t trying to take advantage of you for the most part. They just are trying to do their thing, and if you don’t have boundaries they’ll keep doing their thing without much regard for your things.

Know your value. I say “yes”, but I also usually let the person know what I’m giving up to say “yes” to their thing. Even when I’m being paid. “Hey, thanks for the offer of “$X” and Yes I want to do this and help you, but normally I would be getting “$X+”. Why do I do this? It’s a boundary thing. This is my real worth, I like you or what you’re doing, I want to help, but let’s be clear, here is my real value. The value I’m giving you.

This is really hard because most people get uncomfortable with this. They don’t want to tell others what they are worth and they don’t want to make others feel uncomfortable that they aren’t paying you what you’re worth. But, if you want to say “Yes” more, you kind of have to come to grips with this!

At the end of the day, I still like saying “Yes”. I like trying new things and working with new people. It’s not for everyone, but I think it’s worth a try!

Your Superpower is Your Authentic Self!

I had someone ask me what my superpower is? I found that a hard question to answer. I mean do you think being able to write a 500-word blog post in 15 minutes a superpower!? Some bloggers probably do, but no one else!

I was told that my true superpower was me just being me. My authentic self. Then I asked this person how much I owed them for the life coaching session! 😉

We are told constantly to be ourselves, or live our true life, find a way to be yourself, etc. The reality is being your authentic self might be your superpower, but like all superpowers, they can be used for good or evil.

Let me give you the best example ever! Donald Trump is his authentic self. It’s his superpower and he rode that superpower right into the White House. His authentic self was a superpower he used for evil, and ultimately it destroyed him and his legacy.

What I find a leader of people is that employees living their authentic self either works wonderfully or awfully and rarely anywhere in between!

Here’s the thing about being your authentic self, you must first know if your “authentic self” something others want to be around or if your authentic self off-putting to others. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be yourself, but if your authentic self is a complete asshole, you might want to work for yourself and not someone else!

Let be really frank here, any gender can be an off-putting authentic self. It doesn’t mean you don’t love who you truly are, but you must also realize who you truly are isn’t what most people want to be around. Your superpower isn’t going to be asked to join the Justice League, you’re going to be asked to join the villain side.

In real life, you actually don’t become a villain, unless you’re DJT. Most likely you become your own boss, or you live a miserable existence trying to fit into a work world that doesn’t want you and you don’t want it. Some of the best and brightest people I know can’t work for others. Their superpower is something that allows them to be awesome, but not when working closely with others on a daily basis.

Why does this matter? 

It matters because if some idiot is trying to sell you the snake oil of “Just be your Authentic Self” you must first determine, is your authentic self something others will embrace and want to be around. If so, great, you’re going to probably have a great career. If it’s not, and you want to work in the corporate world, you’re probably in for a lot of therapy.

Also, let me be very clear, not living your authentic self while you are at work isn’t the worse thing in the world. You can be one thing at work and another thing in your personal life. Is it ideal? No. But, I’ve seen many people in my career be successful in doing this. It’s a little like Clark Kent and Superman. I can be Clark Kent at work and then go home and be Superman in the rest of my life.

The worse thing that can happen is you try and force your authentic self onto others and believe they should “accept” your authentic self. Nope. That’s not how it works. You can’t make anyone accept your authentic self, you can only make yourself accept that. If I don’t like your superpower, you can’t make me like it, and if I’m in a position to determine the trajectory of your career, you’re in trouble.

Superpowers are awesome, but they can be super for good or super for bad. Love who you are, but don’t expect others will necessarily love it.

Why Don’t We Make HR Simple? (hint: we might possibly have deep psychological issues!)

Have you ever wondered why HR Departments continue to make complex processes?  In reality, all of us want things simple.  But, when you look at our organizations they are filled with complexity.  It seems like the more we try to make things simple, the more complex they get.  You know what?  It’s you – it’s not everyone else.  You are making things complex, and you’re doing this because it makes you feel good.

From Harvard Business Review:

“There are several deep psychological reasons why stopping activities are so hard to do in organizations. First, while people complain about being too busy, they also take a certain amount of satisfaction and pride in being needed at all hours of the day and night. In other words, being busy is a status symbol. In fact, a few years ago we asked senior managers in a research organization — all of whom were complaining about being too busy — to voluntarily give up one or two of their committee assignments. Nobody took the bait because being on numerous committees was a source of prestige.

Managers also hesitate to stop things because they don’t want to admit that they are doing low-value or unnecessary work. Particularly at a time of layoffs, high unemployment, and a focus on cost reduction, managers want to believe (and convince others) that what they are doing is absolutely critical and can’t possibly be stopped. So while it’s somewhat easier to identify unnecessary activities that others are doing, it’s risky to volunteer that my own activities aren’t adding value. After all, if I stop doing them, then what would I do?”

That’s the bad news.  You have deep psychological issues.  Your spouse already knew that about you.

The good news is, you can stop it!  How?  Reward people for eliminating worthless work.  Right now we reward people who are working 70 hours per week and always busy and we tell people “Wow! Look at Tim he’s a rock star – always here, always working!”  Then someone in your group goes, “Yeah, but Tim is an idiot, I could do his job in 20 hours per week, if…”  We don’t reward the 20-hour guy, we reward the guy working 70 hours, even if he doesn’t have to.

Somewhere in our society – the ‘working smarter’ analogy got lost or turned into ‘work smarter and longer’.  The reality is most people don’t have the ability to work smarter, so they just work longer and make everything they do look ‘Really’ important!   You just thought of someone in your organization, when you read that, didn’t you!?  We all have them – you can now officially call them ‘psychos’ – since they do actually have “deep psychological” reasons for doing what they’re doing – Harvard said so!

I love simple.  I love simple HR.  I love simple recruiting.  I hate HR and Talent Pros that make things complex, because I know they have ‘deep psychological’ issues!  Please go make things simple today!

Why do we suck so much?

There’s an interactive questioning technique called The 5 Whys.  The theory is that if you continue to ask ‘why’ enough times you’ll get to the root cause of every issue.

Timmy is a bad performer. Why?

He doesn’t follow through on anything. Why?

It seems like he gets things started well and then moves onto other things before the first thing is finished. Why?

He likes the energy of starting new projects. Why?

He thinks if he’s on the front side of the project, he’ll have more influence in the direction the project is going. Why?

Because that has been his experience with our organization.

Oh, so he might not be a bad performer. He just has an opportunity area that we might be able to help him out with – getting projects across the finish line.  And we’ve taught him to behave in this manner.

I don’t know if you have to use to 5 whys each time, I do think you have to ask at least 3 whys to get past the emotion of any decision.  We tend to make most decisions with some element of emotion.  Getting to the third why will get the emotion out in the open.  That is important in any decision-making process.

Does this technique seem a little ‘parental’?  It does, which is why you probably don’t want to make a habit of using this technique too often.  It is definitely a tool, though, that can be very effective for a leader to use from time to time.

“We need to change our hiring process!”

Why?

“We have had 3 consecutive failed hires.”

Why?

“Well, one person was a referral from an executive, so we hired without really checking references. One hire totally aced our pre-employment testing, but had a sketchy work history, but tested off the charts. One was a knock out in the interview, marginal testing, and just didn’t pan out.”

So, do we really need to change our hiring process? Or should we just start following our hiring process?

3 Whys takes the emotion out of any decision making process.  It gets out everyone’s inner issues about the problem.  We tend to lead with a crisis statement that will lead to action.  If we take action based on incomplete information, we will unnecessarily start doing things that we might not need to do, or make changes that really don’t make sense to the organization.

Next time you are facing a tough decision, start asking ‘Why’ and see where it leads you, you might be surprised where you’ll end up!

 

Influencers or Analysts? Who has the most impact on your brand?

The worlds of Influencers and Analysts have never collied more than they are right now in the HR industry. Most of this has to do with the popularity of Influencer Marketing that has taken off in the past decade, and like most things in HR, we are now just catching up with the marketing trend.

Traditionally, in the HR space, companies selling products, technology, and services only really cared about two things: 1. What do our clients think of us, and 2? What do the “Analysts” think of us?

What’s an Analyst? 

Every industry has them. These are basically individuals who work for organizations like Deloitte, Gartner, Forrester Research, IDC, and hundreds of boutique firms specializing in specific parts of the HR ecosystem. The individuals spend a great deal of time understanding the landscape of a specific function in HR, the technology, the processes, what works, and what doesn’t, etc. Then your organization pays its organization a great deal of money for this expert knowledge.

The hope is, using this expert Analyst knowledge will ultimately help you save time, money, and missteps because you’ve hired a firm of experts to help you make the right decisions. Many of these experts have never actually worked a day in HR, but hold MBAs and such. Some of these people are some of the smartest people I’ve ever met, and if you listened to them, they could truly help you. Some are idiots working for a big firm.

Examples of Analyst I admire: William Tincup, Madeline Laurano, Trish McFarlane, George LaRocque, Ben Eubanks, Kyle Lagunas, John Sumser, Holger Mueller, Jason Cerrato, Josh Bersin, Sarah Brennanetc. 

This will then beg the question of well, then, what’s an Influencer? 

Influencer marketing has been around for a hundred years, but Kim Kardashian is the queen of modern-day influencers. I’m famous! You see me talking about or using this product. You buy this product. That’s really the backbone of influencer marketing. I mean Kimmy D would never steer you wrong, would she?

An Influencer is anyone in an industry that a measurable amount of people are listening to, which will influence their buying behavior. I write a blog post on some products that I’m using in my own shop. It’s super awesome! You go out, look at it, and decide to buy it and use it with your team. You’ve been influenced.

Most of the influencers in the HR industry are current or former practitioners, they’ve lived your life. Some are super smart and have the resume to back it up. Some are complete idiots. Any idiot can have a blog (I’m a great example!). Most influencers, like an analyst, have a specialty, something they’re better at than other stuff. Some influence full time, but most hold down ‘real’ jobs to pay the bills. So, they probably don’t have the time to deep dive into the industry, as you’ll see with analysts.

Examples of Influencers I admire: Kris Dunn, Dawn Burke, Carmen Hudson, Robin Schooling, Jason LauritsenLaurie Ruettimann, Jennifer McClure, Sharlyn Lauby, Steve Browne, Sabrina Baker, Joey Price, Mary Faulkner, Jessica Miller Merrell, Janine Truitt-Dennis, etc. (there’s really too many to name!)

Many of these people are HR Famous! They have worked hard to create an audience who for the most part listens to what they have to say.

You also have people that fall into this strange middle ground of Influencer-Analysts types that have no name. Maybe they started out as an influencer, then became an Analyst, or maybe they were an Analyst who became popular and started influencing. Examples in this camp are folks like: Josh Bersin, Jason Averbook, Sarah Brennen, Trish McFarlane, Ben Eubanks, etc.

(BTW – All of these people you should connect to! )

So, who has the most impact on your Brand? Influencers or Analysts? 

This is not an easy question to answer because like almost anything it depends on a lot! We all know of a certain product we love and regardless of the influence or what some expert is telling us, we will just buy it because we love it!

We also have an untold number of products and services we buy because someone we trust told us about it, and because we trust them, we go buy it.

If you’re a large enterprise-level product or service, basically selling to companies that have more than 5,000 employees, you better make nice with the Analyst community! They tend to have the ear of more enterprise buyers then you’ll typically see from influencers. I doubt very highly the CHRO of Google is reading this blog! (but I know the CPO of GM is!)

What I see is companies selling to enterprises usually work with both Analysts and Influencers. They want to ensure their message is heard across the buying community, so they don’t miss out on a potential buyer, and they have the money to do both.

Companies selling to under 5,000 employees and it starts to get a little harder to determine the impact of Analysts. I mean how many HR and Talent shops in Small to Medium-sized businesses have the money to pay for Analysts Research? Not many! If you run an HR shop of a 1500 person company, you do not have $50,000 to hear what the best ATS is! The ATS you buy won’t even cost $50K!

Behind the scenes, most analysts understand their biggest impact on the enterprise buyer, and because that’s where the money is, that’s exactly where they want to be! If you have buyers across small, medium, large, and enterprise markets, it then becomes a more difficult decision on how you use Influencer marketing.

The real answer to the question above is you engage with the analyst and influencers that have the most positive impact on selling your product. Unfortunately, most organizations have little or no idea if either side is having an impact on selling their stuff.

Who has the juice? 

I call someone who has ‘real’ influence as having the “juice”. If you have the ‘juice’ you have the ability to influence real buying decisions on a regular basis. Laurie Ruettimann tells you to go out and buy this new great HR product, and that organization will see a measurable sales increase directly tied to the links in her posts. She’s got juice!

I wrote about an HR Tech company a few months ago after a demo and a month later they sent me a bottle of gin because they landed a six-figure deal directly from my mentioning them in a post. That’s gin and juice! 😉

Most people who call themselves influencers in the HR space have little or no juice. Usually, because they just don’t have a large enough, sustained audience who is listening. They might be 100% correct in their recommendations and insight, but not enough people are listening to move the buying needle.

I love what the folks are doing over at Advos because they are actually showing organizations who have the juice and who doesn’t. I can tell you I have the juice and say I’m the #1 Influencer in the HR marketplace, but the reality is, anyone can say that! HRMarketer is actually giving data behind those words to let people know where the real juice is.

The truth around all of the analyst vs. influencer chatter is that you’ll find people in both groups who can help you and people in both groups who are complete idiots and have no value. The best thing to do is build a relationship with both, find out who moves your needle and aligns with the messaging you’re trying to get out, and then measure. Eventually, you’ll find the right mix that will work for your organization.

How Perfect is your Perfect Hire?

There’s a concept known as the “Perfect Premium”. Basically, we over evaluate the value of “perfect” versus almost perfect. What do I mean?

Let me give an example that we are all familiar with, standardized college admission testing, ACT/SAT. A perfect ACT score is 36. If someone scores a 36 on the ACT, they’ll get a full ride, academic scholarship to some college.

If someone gets a 35 on their ACT test, one point lower than perfect, they might get a full-ride scholarship to a college, but that is no guarantee. We assume 35 is that much lower than a 36. Now, what about comparing an ACT score of 35 to a score of 34? Well, in that case, we assume those two scores a virtually the same! Smart, but not perfect!

We do this with employment assessments as well.

We assume the person who scores the highest on the test is the best one, and the people who scored less are really that close. Let’s say you have an assessment that scores 0 to 100. You have three candidates that score 100, 94, and 91. We will almost always assume that the 100 is by far the better hire than the 94 or 91.

If you tell your hiring manager they can’t have the 100 score because that person dropped out for some reason, they won’t really care if you choose the 94 or 91. To them, those are the same, but that 100! She was the magical unicorn!

We exaggerate the distance between the perfect and the near-perfect by an exponential amount from those who near-perfect to almost near-perfect. 

Why does this matter?

Because the reality is, those who are perfect, and those who are near-perfect, are virtually the same when it comes to potential performance. Whether you hire the perfect scoring candidate or the one who is near perfect, you are basically getting the same person, but your mind will lie to tell you and tell you that you’re not!

Your perfect hire might actually be perfect! But, your near-perfect hire might also be perfect!

Also, for those thinking, “Tim probably just got 35 on this ACT and now he’s trying to make us believe he’s as smart as the kids who got 36!” Ha! you’re wrong! I got a 32, and I’m still way smarter than those try-hards who got 36! Or am I…

7 Things Start Ups Teach Us That Will Increase Our Success!

My buddy John Hill works for Techstars as the VP of Network, go connect with him, he’s completely an awesome guy who will sit down and have a beer with you and talk about how to change the world for hours!  Last week he got to meet the latest crop of Techstar startups and came away motivated with some great learnings.

Here are John’s takeaways from the newest Techstar startups:

1. Nothing beats hustle. Nothing.

2. The world is full of good ideas, but only a few will execute them.

3. Relational capital is vital.

4. Networks matter. Surround yourself with those who can help you.

5. There are some wicked smart people in the world.

6. To build a great company you need help with funding, talent, and connections to business/industry to scale and the understanding of how to navigate each.

7. Suspend disbelief!

I’m drawn to each of the seven for different reasons but #2 jumps out because I witness this on a daily basis. There are two kinds of people in the world: those who execute and those who talk about executing. Hire those who execute. Understand that they are rare and you should overpay for this ‘skill’.

Do you notice nowhere on his list does he talk about failure. John is a motherfucking doer! He gets shit done. Techstars will only take a chance on startups led by people who will execute. John talks about ways to succeed not about just throwing caution to the wind and failing. The reality is most will fail, setting yourself up for success is key.

I love that he ends his list with “Suspend disbelief”. The world is a critic. Those who make it big have that special combination of John’s list. Great idea, ability to execute, the right network to make it happen, super smart, etc. What they also have is true belief! At the end of the day, you have to believe 1000% of your idea is going to work. No part of you even questions that it won’t.

If it didn’t work you would be destroyed because your belief was so strong that you never saw it coming when it fails. That’s how most great ideas actually make it. You find a combination of all of these things and you put money and resources behind it.

These 7 learnings aren’t about how to make a startup successful. These are how you make anything successful that you’re working on.

Are You Struggling to Find Happiness at Work?

In 1942 Viktor Frankl, a prominent Jewish psychiatrist, was taken to a Nazi concentration camp with his wife and parents.  Three years later, when his camp was liberated, his pregnant wife and parents had already been killed by the Nazis. He survived and in 1946 went on to write the book, “Man’s Search For Meaning“.  In this great book, Frankl writes:

“It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness.”

What Frankl knew was that you can’t make happiness out of something outside yourself.  Riding the Waverunner doesn’t make you happy. You decide to be happy while doing that activity, but you could as easily decide to be angry or sad while doing this activity (although Daniel Tosh would disagree!).  Frankl also wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing, the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

I get asked frequently by HR Pros about how they can make their employees or workplace happier.  I want to tell them about Frankl’s research and what he learned in the concentration camps.  I want to tell them that you can’t make your employees happy.  They have to decide they want to be happy, first. But, I don’t, people don’t want to hear the truth.

Coming up with ‘things’ isn’t going to make your employees happy. You might provide free lunch, which some will really like, but it also might make someone struggling with their weight, very depressed.  You might give extra time off and most of your employees will love it, but those who define themselves by their work will find this a burden.

Ultimately, I think people tend to swing a certain way on the emotional scale.  Some are usually happier than others.  Some relish in being angry or depressed, it’s their comfort zone.  They don’t know how to be any other way.  Instead of working to ‘make’ people happy, spend your time selecting happy people to come work for you.

In the middle of a concentration camp, the most horrific experiences imaginable, Frankl witnessed people who made the decision to be happy. Maybe they were happy to have one more day on earth. Maybe they were happy because, like Frankl, they discovered that the Nazis could take everything from them except their mind.

Provide the best work environment that you can.  Continue to try and make it better with the resources you have.  Give meaning to the work and the things you do.  Every organization has this, no matter what you do at your company.  Don’t pursue happiness, it’s a fleeting emotion that is impossible to maintain.  Pursue being the best organization you can be.  It doesn’t mean you have to be someone you’re not.  Just be ‘you’, and find others that like ‘you.’

5 Traits That Make Your HR Business Partner Great!

I use to think the title ‘HR Partner’ was played out and it probably was for a time.  There was a point a few years ago when every HR Pro had to change their title from HR Manager, HR Director, etc., to HR Partner.  It always made me feel like we were all apart of a bad cowboy movie, ‘Giddy up, Partner!’

I’ve actually grown to really like the “Partner” in the title of an HR Professional.  While many HR Pros just changed their title, I’ve met some great ‘Partners’ in HR who have changed their game, to match their title change.

What makes a Great HR Partner Great?  Here are 5 things I think makes them game-changers:

1. Great HR Partners know your business.  Now, wait.  I didn’t say they ‘knew their own business’, they know the business of who they support. But wait, there’s more!  They know the business of who they support, the way the person or team they support knows it. Say what?!  It’s not good enough to know the business of your organization.  You have to know how those you support know and support the business.

That could be different, based on the leader.  One leader might be ultra-conservative in their business practices, another risky. A great HR Partner knows how to support them in the way those they support, want to be supported – while still being able to do the HR part of their job.

2.  Great HR Partners have a short-term memory. Great baseball pitchers don’t remember one pitch to the next.  Each pitch is new. Each pitch has the potential for success.  If they remembered each pitch, the last one, that was hit for a home run, would cloud their judgment about the next pitch.

Great HR Partners are willing to change their mind and try new things.  They don’t carry around their experiences like a suitcase, pulling them out and throwing them on the table each time those they support want to try something new.  Don’t forget about your failures, but also don’t let your failures stop you from trying again.

3. Great HR Partners allow risk.  A great HR Partner is able and willing to accept that organizations have risk.  It is not the job of HR to eliminate risk, it is the job of HR to advise of risk, then find ways to help those they support, their partners, to achieve the optimal results in spite of those risks.  Far too many HR Partners attempt to eliminate risk and become the ‘No’ police.  Great HR Partners know when to say “No” and when to say “Yes”.

4. Great HR Partners don’t pass blame.  If you are a great HR partner and you work with great partners, you will all support each other in the decision making process.  A great HR Partner will never pass blame but will accept their share as being one of those who supported the decision to move forward.

This doesn’t mean you become a doormat.  Behind closed doors, with your partners, you hash out what there is to hash out.  When the doors open – all partners support the final decision that is made.  A Great HR Partner will have the influence to ensure they can, and will, support that decision when those doors open up.

5. Great HR Partners don’t wait to be asked.  A great partner in any capacity is going to support those they support with every skill they have available to them.  In HR we have people skills – so when those who we support have issues, we offer up our ideas on what we can do to help the team.  Great HR Partners don’t stop at HR advice!  In a time of brainstorming and problem solving the idea that goes unshared, is the worst kind of idea.

I might not know operations, and I will say that up front, but I’m going to put myself out there and tell my partners that eliminating the rubber grommets on the bottom of the widget is a bad idea because while it saves us $.13 per unit, it also makes our product slide around and that ultimately will piss off the customer.

Being an ‘HR Partner’ has very little to do with HR.  Those you support expect you have the HR expertise. What they don’t expect is how great of a ‘partner’ you can be.  Great HR Partners focus on the partnership, not on the HR.