Claim your seat at the table – Part 2
by Sara Jones
In my last post, I discussed 3 ways for human resources professionals to claim their seat at the table. In this post, I want to discuss the importance of networking in relation to claiming your seat with C level executives.
Before my time working with our applicant tracking system, I was able to observe several HR managers in different organizations, and I recognized that their job is such an exercise in diplomacy. How HR managers deal with such a wide range of people issues – most of them not in their control – and, at least the ones I know, manage to do it with their wits intact. Because they see so much of the realness of what goes on in companies, executives would be well to listen carefully to HR manager’s perspective on how company strategy will affect employees at the company. And executives would be well to invite HR managers to weigh in on key decisions in the company.
For many HR managers, being a participant in strategic decisions of the company is both exciting and daunting. It can introduce them to many new aspects of driving business beyond how people are hired and transitioned out of the company. In an effort to help HR managers become better versed in company decision-making, I’d like to recommend that HR managers learn how to become better networkers so that they have access to these types of opportunities.
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But wait, you say. I know everyone in the company. So I’m networked. Or, you might say, I don’t network because networking is a four-letter word that only sale-sy people do. But the truth is, in most businesses, key opportunities are usually given to ones who invest time building relationships with key decision makers. Here are a few things you can do to get you over whatever is holding you back from networking.
Networking is not about passing out business cards. It is about building real relationships.
1. Build relationships. Networking is not about passing out business cards. It is about building real relationships. As an HR manager, you are actually well positioned to be in front of many people in the company. From executives, to managers, and to staff, you hold all of the key relationships. The trick is to be more than the person that they go to with job complaints. View your role as a bridge builder. Find out what people need to be successful. Provide them resources to help them be successful, and they will view you as a key part of their success.
2. Shine the spotlight. An HR manager has key insight into what drives and motivates people. We know that employees want to feel valued. And so does management. You often know a lot of what is going on under the surface of the company. You also see some great things happening that other people in the company might not be aware of. Use your role to mention positive things that are happening in the company as you go about interacting with people. You will start to be seen as a person who has access to great, useful information.
3. Be a mentor. Believe it or not, you can be a mentor to others in many ways. Most people want to be able to grow in a company. You have great insight on what is needed to help people grow their careers. You may have job opportunity insight, knowledge of where there may be gaps in different departments that may fit a person’s skills, understanding of skills and experience that a person can develop to get to their next career opportunity. The more you help lift people up, the more they will see you as a key part of their success.
Finding sponsors in your career will move you toward your goal of getting a seat at the table faster than most any other strategy.
4. Find a sponsor. This is a highly undervalued concept that people often confuse with mentorship. A sponsor is someone who is strategically positioned to open up an opportunity to you. When you develop a relationships with a sponsor, they are willing to use their emotional and/or political capital to elevate you in front of their peers or others. When associates see you together, your relationships with that sponsor builds credibility in their eyes. Of course that credibility has to be earned. Finding sponsors in your career will move you toward your goal of getting a seat at the table faster than most any other strategy. To learn more about the difference between mentors and sponsors, read here.
What are some tips you’ve found that have helped you get a seat at the table and make sure executives know that you can bring strategic insight into the growth of your company?
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