Welcome to 2013! Are we having fun yet? I know that it’s traditional to start a new year with all sorts of hope, cheer, and optimism. But let’s face it. 2013 is going to be one tough set of 365 days, and I wouldn’t be doing you any favors by pretending it won’t be. Sorry.
What’s so uniquely daunting from the HR perspective is that it seems like all the initiatives coming down from Capitol Hill and the White House will be looking squarely at the HR function for support, communication, and implementation. Upon responding to this challenge, it’s still up to you to pick up the pieces of your business and your workforce and carry on. It’s like Washington is expecting HR to save the world. Would it be starting off on the wrong foot if we just went ahead and declared 2013 Year of the National PITA now?
Still the work must be done, and you have to take care of yourself and your career as you figure out how to put your moving pieces together and your best foot forward all year long.
This time it seems most fitting to offer up these resolutions to inspire you to take care of yourself as you take care of your employees, your community, and your company.
Ready? Here goes:
I will remember not to take anything that happens personally.
Whether it might be a reduction in force, or a reduction in your employees’ paychecks, you may make some very hard announcements in the upcoming months. This is likely to make you just a little—or a lot—unpopular in your organization. People who are upset are going to take it out on the person closest to them or the one delivering the unhappy news. That would be you.
The cumulative impact on all those difficult conversations is going to hit your heart and affect your peace of mind. Protect yourself by taking your work personally in terms of your sense of responsibility to your people and your company. But also hold in your heart that this isn’t about you personally. You’re doing your best. And hopefully, when your people calm down they’ll see that too.
My work will stay true to the company’s mission and values.
In the last ten years when companies were competing for scarce talent, it became very popular for them to differentiate themselves from each other by creating soaring mission and values statements. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Now it might seem to you that those same promises feel like the first luxuries to be thrown overboard in the face of survival.
Don’t do it. Assuming those statements were well designed, they should cost you nothing to honor them. When money was flowing more freely, it might have been easier to put those promises into action. But now that money and talent might be scarcer, does not mean those promises go away. You just have to be more creative and flexible in the way your actions bring your company’s mission and values to life.
How does this resolution help you personally? It reminds you that you still have power over the quality of how your company delivers its employee value proposition. And you can still look at yourself in the mirror.
I will continue building out my own professional career by diversifying my world.
As a developing HR professional, you want to be more (for instance, getting that SPHR if you think you need it to compete in the HR job marketplace). But you also want to be more of different things.
While your work on the job might be completely wrapped up in survival mode, your personal career development work must continue to be in growth mode. That way you’ll be prepared when unexpected opportunity crosses your path. (I’m thinking of hockey great’s Wayne Gretsky’s advice about knowing where the puck will be and being there first.)
In addition to developing your HR skill sets, diversify your career world by
• Intentionally meeting new people every day (networking gurus remind us that if we met two new people a day, we’d have over 700 new contacts and friends by the end of the year);
• Exploring new vertical business sectors that might interest you (Hospitality? Tourism? Non-profits? Healthcare?) and joining those professional organizations just as you would renew your HR Florida chapter membership;
• Taking professional development courses at your local community college. These courses are often taught by accomplished, established professionals in their fields who are teaching as adjunct instructors. They can plug you into entirely new networks that could open up a variety of unexpected opportunities for you.
It will be the change I want to see in the world.
Gandhi first said it. And his wisdom is just as relevant today. This may feel like the year of reduced resources and opportunities. But it can also be the year of growing hope. You can show through your own actions that you still believe in the promise of a fulfilling future.
Demonstrate your belief in selfless generosity by networking on behalf of others. Demonstrate your commitment to development by creating a lunch-and-learn lecture series conducted by your internal experts and local instructors and speakers. Demonstrate your belief in the future by building relationships with your local schools to help prepare their students for their own working lives.
Speaking of the future, here is your final Best Resolution for HR in 2013:
I will use HR to activate the future.
The HR department is where your company’s hope resides. For lesser souls this could be a daunting mandate. But for you, it’s what you do. Every day. Start with yourself and then let that hope roll down the halls, invade the Csuite and perch comfortingly on the desks of all the people who look to you for a fulfilling 2013 of their own.
Happy New Year!