7 Ways To Become Awesome in HR — No Matter How Much (Or Little) Experience You Have!

When you gain a reputation as someone who is awesome in HR, a lot of things become irrelevant.

It won’t matter how much HR experience you have.

It won’t matter what college you went to.

It won’t matter what degree you have.

It won’t matter whether you’re HR certified or not.

No one will give a crap about that stuff.  Instead, they will be spellbound by your awesomeness.

You will face fewer obstacles in your climb up the ladder of success.

And no one ever forgets the experience of working with this type of HR pro.

So, how do YOU become awesome?

Here’s how:

1. Stop making excuses and start taking responsibility.

No one wants to hear why you couldn’t do something. So make a conscious decision right here, right now to stop awfulizing and giving excuses.

Grab responsibility by the throat, wrestle it to the ground and own the results of the projects you work on.

When something goes wrong (and it usually does), own that too.

Don’t blame the CEO.
Don’t blame your boss.
Don’t blame your clients.
Don’t blame your team members.
Don’t blame “the culture.”

If you aren’t comfortable with this mindset, it will be hard for you to build an HR reputation for being awesome. “Average” HR people quickly make up excuses and point fingers at other people or situations when things don’t go as planned.

They’ll criticize the “design” of the new performance appraisal program rather than work with their clients to customize it to make it work.

They’ll blame the high turnover in their client groups on the lack of a company-wide onboarding program, rather than take steps to create one themselves.

Remember this: no statue was ever erected to honor a critic.  You can’t be awesome if you prefer spending your time on sidelines booing those on the playing field, rather than trying to make a difference yourself.

2. Work your ass off.

Yes, work-life balance and taking time off to rest are important.  But those are things you do AFTER you’ve created your HR awesomeness.

It’s impossible to become awesome if you’re playing World of Warcraft every night or rushing home to catch the latest episode of Broke Girls.

You’ve no doubt heard this before: “If you want to get something done, ask a busy person to do it.”

To be awesome, you must become recognized as that busy person who gets things done.

3. However, learn how to say no.

One of the quickest ways to rise in HR is by saying yes.

Yes, I’ll take on this new project.

Yes, I’ll work through the weekend to get the employee engagement survey results analyzed for that big presentation.

Yes, I’ll tackle the compensation project that’s outside of my comfort zone.

But in doing this, don’t be a doormat for people to step on.

If you truly say yes to everything, you’ll quickly burn yourself out, and then you won’t be producing your most creative or innovative work. The work that will truly separate you from the rest of the pack.

What’s more, you’ll overcommit yourself and disappoint your boss or team members when you can’t meet deadlines or complete all that you’ve said you’d do.

So instead of saying yes all the time, learn how to accurately estimate long a project will take and balance that against the other tasks currently on your plate. Then, learn how to give polite but firm NO’s when necessary, a compromise or other options.

For example, if the boss asks for a time-consuming project to be done on an impossibly short deadline, you might say, “Getting you the talent review summaries for all 40 sales locations by Monday isn’t doable given the other priorities on my plate.  But I CAN get it to you by Wednesday at noon, or by Tuesday morning if I can borrow a colleague to help me out.”

4.  Over-deliver in your personal relationships.

In any given work environment — including HR — almost everyone is focused on one goal: to make themselves look good.

If you can change things around and focus on making other people look good, you’re well on the way to being awesome.

Being known as a backstabber, brown-noser, boot-licker or a self-centered jerk is not a recipe for awesomeness.

Instead, give others more than you get. Never find yourself in relationship debt. From time to time, you’ll screw up. When that happens, apologize like this:

“I’m really sorry. It was completely my fault. I hope you’ll forgive
me, and here is how I am addressing this in the future.”

Buy thank-you cards and write 2-3 every day. Use your calendar to keep up with the birthdays of as many people as possible. Write real birthday notes or cards instead of e-mail messages. .

Whenever a casual or business relationship is coming to a close (the training class ends, colleagues move to another project, etc.) write the person a quick email. “I enjoyed working with you… thanks for doing a nice job.”

When bad things happen to others, be quick to forgive the following: mistakes, weaknesses, shortcomings. (No one is exempt from these things, even awesome people.)

However, you should worry about the following: dishonesty, passive aggressive behavior, chronic tardiness, whininess. (These patterns do not usually get better with time.)

Radically exclude people that waste your time. This is NOT being impolite – it is showing respect for the people you have committed to serve.

Remember that people will basically act the same no matter who they are around. If the people you hang out with are always complaining about other people, chances are they probably complain about you too. The point is: don’t put others down when they’re not around, or at least make sure you’re comfortable with whatever you say being repeated.

5. Take charge and lead when no one else will.

Here’s an example. From time to time you’ll arrive at a meeting where it’s not clear who is in charge. An example is a meeting to launch a new HR initiative which includes colleagues of equal rank. Here is how to handle this:

Step 1: Assess the situation to determine the leadership skills of the other attendees. Remember that your goal is to get things done and make other people look good.

Step 2: Take initiative without taking control. Be helpful, ask questions, and offer to accept tasks on behalf of the group.

Step 3. At the end of the meeting, provide a quick recap based on the actions the group agreed to. “OK, so Susan will contact the Legal Department, I’ll do the research and contact Finance…” and so on.

Step 4. If no one else is openly taking notes, do it yourself. Type them up and email them out to the participants within 24 hours of the meeting to “ensure we’ll all on the same page.”

A Note on Notes: being the recorder accomplishes two things. 1) You are viewed as awesome for taking the initiative and capturing information for everyone else, and 2) You get to put your own bias on how the notes are written.

You can apply this mentality to bigger meetings as well if there isn’t a project manager or meeting leader to do this for you.

6.  Enlarge your vision of success.

Work on creating larger, more compelling goals. Take what’s already working well in your HR career and exponentially add to it.

Grow your professional HR network by 300%.

Apply for positions two levels above your current role.

Identify five HR mentors instead of one.

The funny thing about big goals is that they often take less time to achieve than you expect. And even if you fall short (which you often will), you’ll learn faster and wind up far ahead of where you expected.

7.  Get help from others.

As you pursue your plans for complete and total awesomeness in HR, you’ll be naturally drawn to others who have made the same decision.

Even better, those that “get it” will be drawn to you as well. You’ll learn from them and vice versa. Awesome HR people are all minorities in a world of average HR.

As an awesome HR pro, you’ll attract help and assistance in all kinds of unexpected places and from people you never knew before. No one really knows how this works, practically speaking. It’s okay; just accept the gifts that are given to you. They are given for a reason.

The Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho put this best:

“When you want something, all the universe conspires
in helping you achieve it.”

All you need to do is 1) start something, and 2) stick with it long enough to see results.

There you are…seven.ways to become awesome in HR.

But watch out: being awesome can be addicting. It’s like regular exercise. When you first start, it’s a struggle. But after 3-6 months of doing it consistently, you build up a natural addiction to it. And you’ll feel bad when you’re not doing it. The same is true with being awesome: do it once, and it’s scary. Do it a few times, and you love it. Stop doing it, and you’ll get depressed.

One final thing: don’t expect everyone to understand your decision become awesome.

They won’t get it. .

Ignore them and just stay the course.

Concentrate on just being awesome.

That’s all it takes.

Credit: Alan Collins



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