Before we get started, here's what you can expect:
- Modern HR is about more than relationship building. You need to develop quantitative analytical skills and strengthen your creative problem solving ability to become a strategic partner within a company.
- “Innovation is usually surprising to people when they see it, but to someone else, that's just how they think,” says Tami Rosen, a Senior HR Executive with expertise at startups and Fortune 100 companies like Atlassian, Luminar Technologies, Apple, and Goldman Sachs.
- The pandemic has changed the way we work and how we think about people, handing HR professionals a golden opportunity to speak up and innovate to better serve employees and business goals.
A major misconception about HR roles is that HR and TA employees aren’t business savvy.
The belief seems to be that HR is people-focused, which is at odds with understanding a company’s larger goals and strategy. In reality, what is an organization’s most valuable asset? Its people.
That means it’s vital for the company’s people-focused strategies to be totally aligned with its business strategies. To be effective, HR leaders need to understand and think strategically about business goals.
You’re no longer an order taker within a company; you’re a strategic partner.
“From a recruitment perspective, it's very difficult to transition from that to being an HR business partner,” says Tami Rosen, a Senior HR Executive with expertise at startups and Fortune 100 companies like Atlassian, Luminar Technologies, Apple, and Goldman Sachs, on an episode of Talent on the Rise.
Throughout her career, Tami’s been able to do just that — she started at a recruitment firm and spun her expertise into leadership and executive positions with startups and Fortune 100 companies like Luminar Technologies, Apple and Goldman Sachs.
She credits her agility to a “triangle of traits” she recommends any HR professional develop.
Check out the full episode on your favorite podcast app:
Tami’s movement from recruitment and into the various verticals of HR have let her develop deeper relationships with new hires and play a richer role in the success of a company and its people.
Here’s Tami’s advice for HR professionals to develop the skills you need to think holistically about the people piece of a business and become a strategic business partner.
Develop your ‘triangle of traits’
As the role of HR evolves in companies, the skills you need to be successful in the field are evolving, too.
“As HR leaders, we need to think beyond our own barriers and borders that we create,” Tami says.
You can no longer thrive in a silo of talent acquisition, learning and development, benefits or employee relations. You have to think strategically about curating a team, developing training programs, creating a culture and contributing the company’s long-term mission.
Tami calls the new HR toolbox a “triangle of traits,” which includes:
- Relationship skills: Know how to build strong relationships and connect with people to get things done.
- Quantitative skills: Be able to think about the numbers — in dollars and data. Thinking quantitatively lets you look at factors like spending and attrition to understand the effects of recruiting and training.
- Creative problem solving: If you want to move beyond simply taking orders from hiring managers, creative problem solving skills are crucial. Learn to look at the big picture and proactively recommend solutions that fit the larger context of company goals.
Regardless of which area of HR you’re in now, you still need to understand what others in the department are doing and how to connect the dots.
“They marry well together,” Tami says of these three core skills, “If you lose one, you know what happens when you take a piece of the triangle off, it collapses. They need each other to hold it up.”
Strengthen new skills in your current position
When your day is inevitably focused on the people side of things, you’re probably flexing your relationship skills every day. But how do you develop those other sides of the triangle to move beyond a one-dimensional role?
Tami believes it’s easier than you might think.
“Your relationships are going to guide you,” she says, but you can take steps to strengthen these other skills from whatever position you’re in.
Make these moves to build your quantitative and creative problem-solving muscles:
- Look at the big picture: It’s easy to get caught up in your day-to-day world. But take time to look up and see the big picture of the business. Where is it headed? What problems is it trying to solve? What’s been working, and where are its pain points?
- Be proactive: HR and TA have traditionally been reactive rolls, answering to the needs of other departments. It’s time to become more proactive. Speak up about what you see when you look at the big picture and how that intersects with the orders you’re getting. Offer your perspective, and suggest solutions based on your expertise — before you’re asked for them.
Champion people-centered thinking
The COVID-19 pandemic and the massive shift toward remote work and distributed teams gives HR and TA professionals a golden opportunity to adjust the way a company relates to its people.
For the first time, Tami says, “We have to care about people — where they work, when they start work, when they leave work and everything in between.”
In an office-centric workplace, we didn’t think about employees’ commutes’ how many people lived in their home; their interactions with their parents, kids and spouses. All of that is front and center with a remote workforce, an opportunity for HR teams to think deeply about how people work and the best ways to support them and continue to collaborate.
Being more distributed also widens the talent pool.
You no longer have to rely on your local pool of candidates or compete with similar companies in your area — for example, in Silicon Valley. You can open your stage to a broader group of applicants and reach more diverse talent.
This is a vital time for HR and TA leaders to take advantage of this window and innovate and reinvent how recruiting, training, collaboration and culture work.
“Employees have spoken and said they want more flexibility,” Tami says, “They want to harmonize their work and professional lives. The true nine-to-five day, going to an office every day, is not what they want.”
This article is based on an episode of Talent on the Rise, Brazen’s podcast about transformative leaders and how they got a seat at the table. Subscribe in your preferred podcast app.