A Better, Stronger, Faster HR Professional

Last week I wrote a blog post where I talked about how Human Resources professionals should go about getting the respect they deserved. It was a reaction to several discussion threads I was engaged in at LinkedIn. The main thrust of those discussions was whether or not HR should/should not be eliminated. I’ve made my feelings felt about that, and I won’t go into it further in this post. 

Today, I want to shift the discussion a bit. I was going through some of my earlier blog posts and came across one I wrote in September of 2009. You can click here to read the original. I’ve also attached it below for your reading pleasure. In it I used humor to ask an important question of HR practitioners: What skill set do we need to be better at what we do?

An important question then and now, understanding what’s needed to be an effective and valued Human Resources professional should be part of any practitioner’s ongoing developmental goals. Much like the way in which businesses are continuously going through change, so too must individuals looking to stay relevant, as well as employable. 

Enjoy the post, and tell me what you think in the comments below. Thanks!

Building the Perfect Beast

There were two things that inspired this post–The Six Million Dollar Man, and this concept car:

Image of Actor Lee Majors as The Six Million Dollar Man Image of BMW Concept Car

For those of you that aren’t as old as I am, the basic premise of TSMDM is this–former astronaut gets into an accident at work (Workers Comp!) and, in typical early 70’s logic, was saved from death by becoming a cyborg operative for a US government agency. Bad hair, bad clothes, and outrageous plots made it a hit in my house. My friends and I would always imagine ourselves as having these great powers, doing cool things and getting the girl in the end. We especially loved making the bionic sounds.

Now fast forward to 2009…

I was born and raised in New York City, maybe the only place in the U.S. where owning a car is considered, well,insane. It’s certainly isn’t necessary, which is part of the reason I don’t own one. That doesn’t mean I don’t like them, which brings me to the above mentioned concept car. I like good design, as do most people. It can take something that functions well, if rather plainly (a car or a government drone, for example) and infuse it with a significance beyond mere utility. All cars have to do is get people from point A to point B; this car does that and more, in a way that elevates its purpose beyond its base.

The other thing I particularly enjoy about concept cars is that they’re an attempt to answer the question, “What if?” While they’re generally grounded in reality, concept cars allow designers to stretch the limits of what something can or should do. It’s in this space between what is and what if that innovative ideas come from. And great product design (think about icons such as the Ipod) answers that “What if?” question in a way that makes people connect to them, both intimately and repeatedly. Even when the day passes that the design becomes outdated (think about the previous generations Ipod, aka the Walkman), people will still retain that connection. And that can be the difference between which things we choose to own or use over others.

…design has become crucial for most modern businesses-as a means of differentiation and as a way to create new markets.” Dan Pink, from A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers will Rule the Future

Now going back to the 70’s…

As cheesy as TSMDM was, it was a great way to answer a similar question–What if we empowered a man to be better than he already was? That’s the question a lot of organizations face as they struggle to recruit quality workers and maximize the talents of their existing ones. It’s the same struggle that HR professionals face internally, as we recognize the need to step-up our game in order to be great assets to the organizations we serve. Work forces and work places are trying to re-design themselves; the ones that successfully answer “What if?” will be the ones who succeed.

So my question to you is this:

If you could build the perfect HR pro, what would he/she have?

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