(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is brought to you by our friends at Capella University. Capella is an accredited online university dedicated to providing an exceptional, professionally-aligned education that puts you in the best position to succeed in your field. They offer bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees as well as certificate programs for human resources and business professionals. View full learning and career outcomes reports for these programs at CapellaResults.com. Enjoy the post!)
Top trend lists are a very popular in the new year, but what about action? Don’t get me wrong, trends are important. But they simply tell us the direction something is going. In order to be successful, we have to know more than the trend. We need to turn our knowledge into action.
I was recently chatting with our friends from Capella University and asked them the question, “What do you tell students who are looking to stay current?” Here’s a list of activities they recommend for HR professionals to put on their to-do list for 2017.
- Assess your knowledge. It’s a good time to take inventory of the knowledge, skills, and competencies you feel confident with and the ones you would like to improve. Some organizations conduct performance appraisals this time of year for this reason. Regardless, HR pros should consider adopting a “career fitness” mentality in 2017.
And if there’s one knowledge topic to focus on this year, it would be human resource management analytics. Dr. Al Gorriaran, SPHR®, SHRM-SCP, core faculty in the Capella University School of Business and Technology, says the major challenge HR professionals face today is turning data into information and asking the right questions about the data. “Critical thinking is the ability to analyze and evaluate the information that you acquire through reading, listening, and seeing the world. Developing critical thinking is developing your ability to be reflective of how you make decisions, become open minded about the possibilities, and developing a process for systematic decision making. Once we develop our critical skills, we can maximize the benefit of the amounts of data and information available from the many HRM analytics tools in the organization today. Successful HR professionals develop sophisticated critical thinking skills, making them more capable consumers of data and information.”
- Tap into your transferrable skills. The skills you’ve acquired in non-HR jobs and volunteer work are valuable. We have to remember that and make it a point to put them to good use. In fact, there are times when those transferrable skills can help us step inside the daily operation and contribute in a different way to the organization’s bottom-line.
- Don’t forget leadership! Personally, I believe everyone is a leader and leadership isn’t attached to a particular job title. As such, leadership should always be on our to-do list. Leadership is complicated. It includes communication, self-awareness, and decision-making. Think of it like the game of golf. We never perfect our game; we just keep practicing to improve our skills and we need to constantly be adding new tactics.
- Consider certification and education. It is becoming increasingly critical for HR professionals to obtain certification, which confirms that a person not only has the education but knows how to use it. Dr. Gorriaran explains why HR pros should consider both for their to-do list. “HR education focuses on the theories and methods of how human resource is practiced in the organization, and helps practicing professionals learn more about what’s driving HR practice, as well as providing a broader view of what many types of companies do to be successful. Certification is proof of professional expertise associated with the field.”
- Stay well-informed. Almost every article I’ve ever read about the habits of successful people includes reading. Warren Buffett was once asked about the key to success, he pointed to a stack of nearby books and said, “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”
Now, I understand not everyone enjoys reading, but you get the point. It’s about staying well-informed, particularly when it comes to business acumen. Shelley R. Robbins, Ph.D., faculty chair in leadership and human resource management in the Capella University School of Business and Technology, shares some ideas for staying on top of what’s happening in business. “One great way to gain business acumen in your own industry is through seeking informational interviews with internal leaders. If your company is publicly traded, get a copy of the annual report, and read it. If you don’t have business background, you can take a course in Business Acumen for HR professionals, like the ones we offer in our masters and graduate certificate in human resource management programs at Capella. We cover strategy, operations, and ways in which HR can support various areas of a company to help them be successful.”
- Set goals. We’ve covered several activities in this post. The best way to turn these recommendations into reality is by setting goals. Make a plan for your professional development then work your to-do list. It’s how things get done. Personally, I’m a big fan of using S.M.A.R.T for goal-setting and professional development plans. And if you’re looking for a goal to start with, consider learning a new technology – maybe a social media platform you’ve been wanting to try out.
- Network. Network. Your knowledge and skills are important. We must constantly update our skills to stay relevant. But let’s face it, we’re doing this to advance our career. Whether it’s finding the job we want in HR or getting promoted, our goal is to get ahead. So, the other thing we need to do, is build relationships. We need to share our knowledge and skills with others, so they will share with us.
If you want to learn more about becoming a better networker, be sure to download Capella’s latest white paper, “7 Tactics for HR Career Networking Success.”
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One of the things I love about HR is that it’s always changing, whether that’s new laws and regulations or innovative technology solutions. For that reason, 2017 is sure to be a year of change for HR. I know that staying on top of what’s happening in human resources can be a challenge. Lists like these always remind me of something that I should be doing – like networking more, or taking a class. So, get your to-do list ready now.1