I am very passionate about learning. I believe it’s the bedrock of maximizing lifetime earnings. The other stuff (networking, social capital, experience, mobility etc.) is important, but knowledge – valuable knowledge – is at the heart of it all.
The most wonderful – and awful – moments for me professionally are when I’m exposed to something in the HR function that I know almost nothing about. It’s wonderful for me because I immediately begin to focus on understanding it and figuring out what about the knowledge I can monetize. Conversely, these moments are also awful for me because they make me aware of just how much I don’t know.
To this point, a very frustrating thing for me throughout my career has been the process of trying to see the HR function holistically and understand exactly what matters at the executive level.
Some of this one can parse out by reading the documents that go out to 1. I also highly recommend reading the resumes / LinkedIn profiles of people within the same functional space as you. Understanding what work in your industry looks like at other companies is a great way to direct thinking.investors (like 10-Ks / 8-Ks / 10qs / DEF14as / ARSs etc. 1). If one is fortunate enough to prepare documents seen by the board / C-level executives (as I’ve been in my career) then reading everything one can here is also a great way of getting an understanding of what sorts of topics one needs to be knowledgeable of at the executive level.
But there also also gaps… I know that executive compensation is important. Benefits in general (and particularly pension) are huge (really, any cost centers or subjects around pay are crucial at the C level for HR execs). On the other hand, there are also tons of big picture HR topics around labor, talent management, supply chain and a host of other critical functional areas where what is important (from the perspective of knowledge one gets paid big bucks to advise and implement around) is less clear.
Simply put, there is *so* much data and so little direction around what to learn. I talk to as many HR leaders as I can all of the time to get a sense of the big picture. I look to work on the largest scope of projects I can. I’m *extremely* hungry to identify what knowledge / know how has compensable value… but to a large extent I’m often fumbling in the dark.
The times where I’m growing the most professionally are moments where I’m exposed to a new ideas. Nothing is quite so wonderful developmentally as experiencing a paradigm shift around *what* is important and *why* it is so.
This brings me to the role that new ideas play in effective talent management.
When it comes to recruiting, bringing in someone with new ideas and deep subject matter expertise can change everything. Every function / department has gaps… things they just aren’t strong at.
Think about how much an HR department at a hypothetical company without a strong analytics department would benefit from hiring a Data Scientist… if said Data Scientist knew his / her stuff it could change the entire function’s value proposition to the business. The same is true of a company with no diversity and inclusion department, or a company that has never had a compensation department.
I’m using HR examples here because it’s what I know best, but this is true of any function. It’s also true at all levels of most organizations.
HR Business Partners should certainly look at succession planning, knowledge transfer, developmental plans etc. for colleagues they support, but there should also be a move towards understanding what other competitors are doing in key functional spaces and finding ways to get new knowledge into the organization. Sometimes that means poaching talent. Sometimes that means hiring consultants. Sometimes it means subscribing to policy and / or trade organizations. Sometimes it means sending your talented people to conferences.
Whatever it means, keep getting new ideas into your organization.
There are so many ideas. There is *SO* much data.
The world is a big place, and it’s moving faster everyday.
Don’t get left behind.
As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
If you have questions about something you’ve read here (or simply want to connect) you can reach me at any of the following addresses:
SomethingDifferentHR@gmail.com OR firstname.lastname@example.org