29: The HR ‘Watch Out’ – Be A Business Leader First, An HR Professional Second

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We are joined by Joanne Rencher, Chief Business and Talent Officer, Girl Scouts of the USA and Founder of Who’s Got Next in HR - a membership based organization that encourages HR professionals to challenge the status quo and take their roles to the next level. 
In this episode, Joanne advises HR professionals why and how to be a business leader first and an HR professional second. She shares valuable career advice designed to ensure your personal professional needle is moving. We learn more about Who’s Got Next in HR which listeners are invited to join (free).  
For over 25 years, Joanne has been making her mark in the field of HR and organization effectiveness. She is known as a visionary, results-driven business and human capital executive. She is also an author and highly sought after speaker. Through her own career journey, Joanne has developed an unparalleled passion for the HR profession. She is an advocate for the importance of HR mentoring, development and networking. Last year, she received the HR Hero Award for outstanding mentoring; she authored People Analytics – The Fly Wheel Effect for HR; and she founded Who’s Got Next in HR?

Key Learnings From This Episode

  • Joanne’s passion is ‘purpose’. In every conversation, meeting and opportunity, she thinks about not only her own purpose, but also what her function is trying to achieve to bring value to the organization. The journey has to be grounded in a purpose, in a strong core. She is continuously challenging people to think about purpose as they perform their roles.
  • The importance of being more than an HR Professional. Joanne developed a passion around HR not focusing on itself as much as it does its internal customers. She knows how talented, driven and passionate people are in the field of HR. They are working across the entire business, touching every aspect of their particular business – strategy, program, revenue generation. You are operating as a business leader first and an HR professional second. When you do that, the sky is the limit as far as your potential and the value you bring; and you always need to stay focused on that. Others will not and they will be pigeonholed, categorized and boxed within the HR profession.
  • What is the ‘watch out’ for HR professionals? To be a business person first and an HR leader second. The watch out point is not limit yourself and to always remain curious. Always be a steward and a student of your business. Think about the things any business leader would – what are they worried about, what is keeping them up at night. The HR professional should be thinking about those things as well. Not only will you add value, but you will also serve yourself well by not putting yourself in that particular box. As an HR person, you must remain curious and business minded so you don’t fall into that trap.
  • What can HR professionals do to avoid being labeled solely as HR professionals and be more broadly viewed as business professionals, contributing and adding value to their organizations?  
  1.  What you read. Read beyond your professional area – read the Wall Street Journal, read periodicals that have nothing to do with the HR profession – this is a necessity.  
  2. The business hat you wear. Volunteer for projects outside your functional area. People will begin to see and engage with you differently. They will recognize you as someone with a point of view who is also a student and a learned individual. Learn a new language outside of that of HR, so that people will invite you and you will no longer have to invite yourself. Tactically, you have to be on the lookout for every one of those opportunities so that you are engaging in areas well outside of HR, to ensure you are seen and viewed differently.
  3. Your knowledge of business financials. You also need to be intimately familiar with the balance sheet, P&L, the core performance drivers, forecasting growth or not – and why not.  It is critical to understand the financials be able to speak this language. You will be much smarter in the decisions you are making on a daily basis.  
  • Networking to your next opportunity. Everyone is at a different point in his/her career journey. The ‘connection’ is where the power of experiences, colleagues and contacts come to life. Being able to bring people together and connect those dots, make introductions and set up mentor/mentee relationships to open doors for conversations about opportunities or career advice. You can set up coaching labs to tap into the minds of your peers and colleagues who have ‘been there, done that’. Connections and networks are broad and far-reaching and can take on any shape or form. What is next is really up to you – the key is not to think you can’t do it because it hasn’t been done.
  • How do people get involved in Who’s Got Next in HR? You can go to the website and sign up for free. You will be able to participate in coaching labs, mentoring programs and articles that are posted regularly with fresh content on many subjects. There is also preferred pricing with partners including Columbia Business School and Study.com.
  • Joanne’s career advice for HR professionals. Don’t forget about yourself. Stay focused on your career. It matters what path you are on. It matters how you are developing as a person and a professional, it matters if your portfolio is standing alongside your ambitions and skill set. Make sure you are having the career conversations with your manager. Make sure you are ‘at the table’ so that you understand what is next for you. Be sure your professional needle is moving, and if not, do something about it. Don’t take the short end of the stick.

Recommended Reading and References from this Episode

To Follow Joanne Rencher

Joanne Rencher's Question to HR Studio Podcast Group Members

(If you are, the sky is the limit. If you are not, you should think about changing, put a marker on the calendar about doing something different. Think about the course you want to plot and how to get there.)
Tuesday, April 25, 2017 - 8:00am
Human Resources
Linda Hlavac
Joanne Rencher
HR Studio Podcast