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02 2011

HR Career Strategic Advice

Syndicated from: balance-AND-results

To go from macro to micro sometimes frames a question well. Recent posts discussed a massive issue: US political people-strategy, and then organizational level HR strategy, so now it seems only fair to get this down to a personal level and see if helps perspective. Alan Collins operates a site called Success in HR and recently offered 20 Brutally Blunt Career Tips to Ponder.. One stood out for me – one that wasn’t even among those he highlights, but which is what I see missing in so many careers: “The time for creating your new HR career is not the day you get downsized or when you decide it’s time to move on. You need to plan this months in advance. This planning is mainly because you need to grow your network first..” Emphatically, the first part is correct, except I’d say “years” not “months.” I’m not so sure how most people would interpret the networking part. I wasn’t a great networker so maybe that would have turned my ‘years’ into ‘months,’ but I have to say I relied on trying to do the job better than anyone else wherever I could (including better strategies for whatever needed to be done). and on keeping an eye on a strategy for myself and making choices whenever any arose that fit its general outlines. That way I’d have success stories to tell if and when opportunity arose. I’m a firm believer in the old saying: luck happens when preparation meets opportunity. I can wait, but I want to be ready. What you get ready for is where you end up. if you’re keeping your eyes open and volunteer when you see a chance at that sort of work. The very essence of strategy as an approach is what most people miss. You won’t get to the end result if you don’t have an idea of what it might be, but a loose idea that leaves some flexibility for variety in getting there. The problem most people seem to encounter is they get frustrated, become negative about themselves and cease pursuing their strategy as soon as they don’t see immediate progress to some specific result. It takes a certain kind of confidence to tell yourself, I will work toward being the best HR person ‘somewhere’ one day whether I get much proof along the way or not. As a sub-strategy I began to keep an eye out for interesting and remunerative problem situations. To get better at HR meant looking for challenges where HR seemed difficult and moving consistently toward industries and sectors where there was more pay. (I came from a poor family and always knew I had only myself to count on – creating a mixture of risk averse, wanting never to be out of work, yet strategically preferring higher paying, somewhat riskier positions). In time, I became continually ‘ready to move’ in case the worst happened, but equally ‘ready to take on a bigger challenge.’ The result was promotions and moves to progressively more challenging roles, learning more constantly and eventually funding the coveted ‘freedom 55′ without actually planning when to become VP or asking for raises except in one obvious case where the job doubled in size. To me, strategy is this ‘always getting ready for something bigger in your chosen area.’ Today, organizations prize innovation, which comes down to exactly the same thing. And U.S. political strategy? The same. Are they “getting ready for something better” – no – it’s more a case of “getting ours” as if we exist in some zero sum game where winners only get what they can take from losers. That’s what happens if you believe you’ve arrived and can only go downhill if you let ‘those people’ get more. That’s why so many successful companies and cultures ultimately fail. Reasonable prudence is fine. If it becomes cutting everyone else’s expenses so your immediate income goes up, with no investment in future growth, you have a guaranteed disaster waiting to happen. Strategy has to be about waiting. and preparing. with both eyes open, yes, but being able to wait till preparation enables seizing opportunity. That’s what the marshmallow experiment with kids is all about! Bookmark and share this post More »

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