Don’t Have Time to be Strategic HR? Here’s Why.
by Angie Rupp
Being a strategic HR professional is tough. And it’s not just because strategic thinking can be somewhat of an elusive term, but so often we’re buried in a never-ending list of trivial tasks which inhibit our ability to dig deep and solve big problems. Don’t get me wrong, this issue isn’t something that just plagues HR professionals, but it is a recurring theme as we learn to balance all of the technological tools at our disposal constantly vying for our attention.
A typical work day for most of us likely flows something like this – one: get into the office and spend ten or so minutes transitioning your mindset from morning stress to work mode. Two: open your inbox and attempt to sift through the madness taking special care to avoid those more “in depth” emails and instead focusing on those that require very little time and effort to respond to (don’t worry…your secret’s safe with me). Two hours later you get to three: which involves some attention thwarting office chatter carrying you into lunchtime with ease. After your hour-long break, you eventually return to work ready to tackle number four in a food fog and spend the next 15 minutes trying to talk yourself into finally checking off some items on your infinitely long “to-do” list. Except that you get to number five: someone walks into your office wanting to “bounce some ideas off of you” draining the next hour of your work day. When you eventually get to six, you realize you’re thirsty and it’s time for a quick coffee pick me up – this usually costs you another 15 minutes. When you hear that familiar email ding, you get to number seven and spend at least an hour sifting through and answering more emails. Are you sensing a pattern here? If you’re keeping track of time and we account for variables, we’re looking at about 2/2:30 PM here. And we’re not done. This cycle is endless and essentially robs us all (especially HR professionals) of the time and energy needed to think deeply and to pursue solutions that have the potential to better align us with the goals of our organization (aka strategic problem-solving).
I have another theory as to why this trap is so difficult to evade – this type of work (flitting from one meaningless task to another) is easy. And it’s comfortable. If I had to venture a guess as to why so many people opt for the typical “safe” 8-5 job instead of pursuing their passion, it would be for the reason listed above. It takes significant mental energy to assess situations strategically and to challenge outdated hiring methods. The good news is that you can easily master the skill of strategic thinking, you just have to dedicate yourself to it. I wrote a pretty in depth post about how to approach HR in a strategic way a while back, but here are a couple of tips for training your mind to discover “deeper” solutions.
Turn it Off
It takes significant mental energy to assess situations strategically.
This may be one of the most difficult steps you take to adopting a more strategic mindset, especially if you’ve grown up in the age of smart phones and the internet, but that’s why it’s one of the most important tasks. For a period of time (or whenever you’re digging in to problem solve), turn off your email, turn your cell phone on airplane mode and try not to answer your phone. I know, I know. Your mind is frantic at the thought and you may think that it would be absolutely impossible based on your unique job description, and demands, but I think you’d be surprised. Which brings me to my next point…
Block off a Solid Chunk of Time Each Day (or Weekly) to Develop your Strategic Skills
This ties directly into the suggestion above, but it involves adopting strategic analysis into your everyday (or at the very least consistent) routine. Now, if you read my first tip and your mind started to swim with “no ways” and “I can’ts” then you’re not giving yourself (or your manager) enough credit. I can promise you that if you went into your executive’s office and said “Hey John/Jane, I’m adopting a new and more strategic approach to my work so that my goals in HR better align with the company’s vision, are you comfortable with me spending an hour of uninterrupted time each day to develop this skill? Here’s the first project I’d like to tackle and I’d really like to share my progress with you next week. How do you feel about that?” It’s highly unlikely that any boss would say no to that. In fact, it’s more likely to skyrocket your strategic credibility instantly.
Make Technology Work for You
I’m adopting a new & more strategic approach to my work. How do you feel about that?
I know what you’re thinking…hey, didn’t you just suggest above that I forego technological interruption so that I can better dig my strategic heels in? Yes, yes I did. And I meant that. But, technology is not the enemy here. In fact, if used appropriately, it will be your best strategic ally. You just have to be selective about what you choose and find technological solutions that will free you from meaningless tasks so that you can focus on deep, strategic work. Here’s what I mean: if you’re spending an inordinate amount of time sifting through and managing piles of paper resumes, use an applicant tracking system instead. But don’t just scratch the surface with the software platform you choose, really take the time to learn it and understand how to maximize its benefits for your unique hiring needs. Another great option is to optimize your employee paperwork by using an online onboarding platform. Again, there will be a bit of an initial time commitment, but once you get the hang of the system, you’ll save yourself hours of headache mitigating piles of pre-employment paperwork.
If you want to master the art of being a strategic HR Professional by streamlining your hiring process, then you’re going to need a knowledgeable support team. Our hiring consultants can help! Click here to arrange a free time to chat, today!
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