HR Leadership: Capability vs. Expertise

I’ve had this HR gig for a long time – even longer considering I don’t even really like HR. Actually, what I don’t like are the conversations others are having about us and the conversations we have amongst ourselves.



Others say we can’t solve business problems, we don’t have the language of the business or we are stuck in an administrative support mindset. And we believe them! Our conversations are woeful and lost. We need to stop that right now and start speaking with pride about our profession and applauding our accomplishments.

We need to step up our leadership game.

Whether we are preparing a workforce succession strategic plan, developing an innovative approach to increase veteran hiring, analyzing workforce trends to identify recruitment and retention hot spots, digging into big data or making progress on the diversity front, skills alone are never enough.

Organizational leaders want more than capability. They want expertise. They are waiting for us to speak from our position as expert, offer points of view and challenge assumptions. It's integral to HR competency.

Pick a day, any day, and welcome to our world as HR leaders. As chief human capital officers, human resource directors, EEO managers or brand new human resource  generalists, we are expected to advise, identify risk and recommend.  Focusing on the technical aspects of the job alone will not get us to where we need to go to impact organizational performance.

Our work puts us at the center of the action where we are perfectly poised to lead. I challenge you to up your leadership game. Are you up for the challenge? 

Change: A Day in the Life Sunday

Change is good. It's not always easy and it's not always welcome but, one way or another, the need for change will present itself in ways that you cannot avoid, ignore or explain away.



Embrace it, it's here and it's long overdue.

So, what's this all about? I promise you it's not as grandiose as you may think. I am adding leadership staff to my HR department. I am turning over the reins. Not all the reins and not all at once - it's simply not in my nature - but it will be done.

The facility has expanded dramatically in size and complexity and the HR staff of seven I started with over nine years ago has blossomed to over 16. Supervisors, managers and senior leaders support me to no end. My staff is a-m-a-z-i-n-g and they do whatever it takes to deliver quality HR services every day - even when I am there but not available to them.

They deserve more and I expect more from myself.

I know the kind of leader I want to be and I haven't been delivering. Not even close. We've expanded past the point that I can lead staff, manage delivery of HR services, facilitate change and respond to the myriad needs of our supervisor, managers and leaders well on my own.

Despite encouragement to add leadership staff, I struggled to get past the idea that "I can do it with the resources I have." Once I faced reality that I was not delivering, the rest was easy. I set out to find skilled professionals I could trust with my vision and my people. I found them.

My new Lead Labor Relations guy joins my new Assistant Chief tomorrow. Health care system supervisors, managers and HR staff will have ready access to two more HR leaders, I will share my workload (it's all about me, remember?) and we will build on new ideas, expertise and perspective to take the department to new heights.

I get giddy (yes, I just said giddy) when I think about the possibilities.