Learning the Business

There has been a push in the last few years for HR professionals to change how we refer to ourselves. We should start calling ourselves business leaders who happen to to HR rather than HR leaders who happen to be in a business. I never really understood the difference until the past week.

My boss has challenged me over the past couple of years to lead the IT side of our department. I have been the reluctant leader here, guiding the department to continue moving the IT needs forward. I’ve let others make the actual decisions, though I have attempted to guide which decisions need to be made. In the last year however, I’ve tried to be more proactive. I’ve started learning how we use the IT systems and looking at how can we better use the software we’ve selected. I’ve started listening to those who use it to try to understand our business. I’ve (with a few others) been working with the vendor on enhancements. And as part of that group, I asked Dean to send me to the conference along with 2 others that usually go.

I got the opportunity to network with others who lead their processes. I enjoyed speaking with them and actually feeling like I could hold up my end of the conversation in speaking about how we use the system. I used that time to look at the bigger picture of how we use this software, start looking forward and really think strategically about what we can do.

And suddenly, I understood

It’s about more than just knowing the jobs in your department or business. It’s about more than knowing some of the details or being able to speak the language to bring in new recruits or get someone to stay. It’s more than knowing the laws & regulations or even the HR laws & regulations or being able to write a policy. It’s even about more than knowing what your employees do day in and day out. It’s that deeper understanding of why your business exists. It’s being able to take the 30,000 foot look and make a strategic plan that makes sense for the entire business, not just the HR side. And it’s about being able to come down to the level of the individual employee and be able to explain, in terms they understand, how they fit into that strategic plan, how what they do makes a difference.

I’m not all the way there yet. I’ve got a lot to learn, but at least now I know I’m on the right path.

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