Successful Human Resource Executives understand the importance of:
- Having a good pulse on the organization’s heartbeat
- Being a respected and valued business partner as well as an HR professional
- Knowing when and how to utilize the right HR tools for the current environment, audience and business objectives
- Putting people first and profits second. The “right people” will always deliver
- Understanding when to: lead; provide counsel or “push back”
Early in my HR career, I played a central role managing a project of a 2,000 person staff reduction. At that time, I was just establishing my HR footprint as Sr. Manager HR Metrics and Reporting & Analysis. I had no Generalist experience. I did not fully realize the impact that role would have on me personally and professionally. Going through this experience would ultimately help shape my perspective on what it means to be a true HR professional. This experience became the “North Star” for my future career aspirations. Attempt to master your craft, always treat people the way you would want to be treated, and always “show up” with your best self.
My previous career roles and experience were in accounting and finance. However, all eyes turned to me when senior leadership asked the HR function to identify someone with a strong understanding of spreadsheets, ability to analyze business cost impact scenarios, and experience handling confidential and sensitive information. My role as Reduction in Force (RIF) PM was to efficiently manage the everchanging list of 2,000 impacted staff, maintain “zero error” tolerance, data integrity, assign HR notifiers to each impacted staff, and ensure the highest level of confidentiality.
I found the Courage to quickly raise my hand to be the HR point person for this task. I always took everything I did seriously and knew this was a chance to fully leverage that work ethic. My HR colleagues were quick to remind me of the respect, trust, and confidence that they had in my ability to oversee this RIF. They provided me with tangible examples of my track record on delivering. Those conversations gave me the Confidence to fully commit to this challenge. The days before the RIF, I diligently and successfully developed and presented our final employee impact list to senior leaders in HR, Finance, Operations, Security, and Communications.
It was also at this time, that I had to confront two facts. First, when the dust settled, it was determined that a close immediate family member would be impacted by the RIF. I was forced to separate my personal feelings from my professional obligation, which ultimately helped refine my Character. While I could not change the outcome, I could control various aspects of the notification process. I selected the time, place, and notifier for my family member’s exit conversation. My objective was to inject some sense of Compassion into this life-changing event. In the end, my family notification efforts were successful and appreciated.
Secondly, when the dust settled, I realized there would not be enough HR Business Partners to cover all the staff notification meetings, 24 impacted staff did not have an identified notifier. I approached my role as the RIF PM as a development opportunity and more importantly, a way to let my colleagues know that I was “All In” with them to ensure we delivered on our goal to exit all impacted staff with the highest level of integrity, compassion, and transitional support. I recommended that I conduct these non-assigned staff departure discussions.
We accomplished our goal and the following month. I was unanimously selected to fill a vacant HRBP role. That was the “official” beginning of my HR career. Today, I still strive to approach each HR engagement with Courage, Confidence, Character, and Compassion. When in doubt, think about how you want to feel when you come out on the other side.