Last week we identified 5 questions to ask that will earn the respect for the HR department. Asking questions and prodding leadership around best practices is neat.

Want to know what’s neater? Taking action. Owning your role. Providing value above and beyond all expectations.

When you walk in the hallways, the entire organization will see you, revel you, and seek out your guidance and wisdom — because that is what you do. Not only are you HR, but you’re Chief Psychology Officer, Chief People Problem Solver, and Chief of Staff to anyone looking to kick a** and execute — from the junior associate to the CEO.

All of those organizational courses and certifications must be used in practice, not just theory.

Doing this is hard and reminds me of a quote from Jack Ma, billionaire entrepreneur and founder of Alibaba:

“Today is difficult, tomorrow is much more difficult, the day after tomorrow is very beautiful, but most die tomorrow evening.”

If you want the career you envision, today is the time to invest in the right actions.

5 Specific Actions HR Must Take Today to Win Tomorrow

1. Define Your Role Or It Will Be Defined For You

The intent of many CEO’s and leaders in the organization is almost always good, the reality is HR gets a lot of “stuff” dumped on them. It’s frustrating and overwhelming. Before you know it, you have 5 projects that will take the rest of the year rendering you swamped in paperwork. When this happens, your role is being defined with offloaded “stuff” from leadership. HR leaders have the course set for them after this happens…and it’s not a rewarding course.

Instead, defining your role is key. Remember, senior leadership is pushing down work that revolves around the status quo. It likely includes around annual reviews, compliance, processing payroll, benefits, and more. Yes, all of this is necessary, but the CEO wants increased productivity, reduced employee turnover, and happy employees. Often times, they may not know what is out there to solve these problems. Know the CEO’s goals. From there, define your role.

2. Analyze Who You Are Helping Most in the Organization

Analyzing the strongest relationships you have within the organization. Yes, you report to the CEO but who do you provide the most value to in the organization? To win tomorrow, take the time today to build relationships with middle management. It’s not going to pay off immediately but in the long term it will be key for the change management you envision. Middle managers must look to you for support and trust. To do this, invest in knowing them and understanding their managerial needs and concerns. Too often, HR develops relationships with just senior leadership and it backfires way too often.

3. Take A Serious Assessment of Where You Spend Your Time

Look back at your calendar.

Ask yourself a very real question: “Am I spending my time efficiently and with the right people?”

The answer will apply back to the role you have defined for yourself and give you an answer to whom you are providing the most value to in the organization.

The answer will be very clear.

4. Find 4-6 Industry People In Your Town to Regularly Connect with Over Coffee

This may seem out of left field. Our industry is changing so quickly, if you do not have a support network, you’re going to miss significant changes and news in the industry. Jim Rohn stated it best: “You’re the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.” The last article anyone needs is another one telling you to go out and “network” more. This is deeper. Form deep, trusting relationships with people who are solving the same problems. Cultivating a support group facing similar challenges you face is essential…because they are always changing!

Find 4-6 people in your industry. Here are 3 must haves:

  • Someone you aspire to be in your field
  • Someone who is beginning their career (pay it forward mentality mixed with fresh ideas)
  • Someone who is facing very similar challenges (could be same company size, etc)

5. Act! Act! Act!

Be on the offensive. Do not wait to placate the status quo. Jobs change too fast and industries move to swiftly to sit on the sidelines and be told what to do. Come up with a plan and act. Be judicious in your risks. If the company is having a hard time streamlining recruiting, test out a few applicant tracking systems with different departments. Remember, you should have good relationships with the middle managers, so they will be patient in your research and testing. Be a fertile field for controlled tests before you bring it to senior leadership. This will minimize political risk (not put your job on the line) while helping you solve some of the organization’s largest challenges, like hiring quality people quickly.

Take these 5 steps today to win tomorrow.

About WideAngle: WideAngle helps HR folks transition to powerful People Ops.