3 ways HR professionals and teams can supercharge their career development

Even the best HR teams can benefit from constant development and improvement. HR is tasked with guiding the workforce but should remember themselves too.

There are three steps HR professionals and teams can take in order to propel their career development to the next level, writes Michelle Gibbings

Organisations, particularly large ones, undergo constant restructures and change. At the same time, the HR executive’s role is changing, and expectations are increasing, along with the growing casualisation of the workforce and the rise of the ‘gig’ economy.

In this environment, HR professionals become the nurturers of talent – relied upon to help grow the future of the organisation.

Tim Ferris, in his best-selling book, The Four Hour Work Week, radically shifted how people think about work. He challenged the notion of the orthodox 9-5 working week, and how it’s the value a person adds, rather than the number of hours they work, that is more important. He highlighted the choices that people can make with their career.

For most, work hasn’t reached the utopia espoused in his book. However, there’s no doubt there are many opportunities to shape the work we do into the career we want. Capturing those opportunities requires the proactive and forward-thinking approach that often-only leaders know to take.

“In this environment, HR professionals become the nurturers of talent – relied upon to help grow the future of the organisation”

Great leaders:

  • Set direction and take action to get there
  • Back themselves and seek to continually develop themselves
  • Surround themselves with people who will help them get the job done
  • Know themselves and seek to understand others

HR can help employees to apply these attributes to their careers, but can equally utilise the skills for themselves, creating a stronger, more capable HR team.

1. Never be complacent
Past successes are to be commended, but in order for individuals to guarantee future successes, it’s essential to periodically assess their careers for holes in knowledge, or outdated skills.

The best way to do this is to apply the standard strategic planning approach and ask “Where am I now?”, “Where do I want to be?” and “What do I need to do to get there?”

These questions will provide a gauge of the progress that’s been made, highlights any gaps, and the next steps to take. They will also help provide focus to the areas of best value add, and how to fit those skills into wider organisational objectives.

“Continued success requires a constant desire to learn, and knowing where to focus that desire is the best path to effective growth”

2. Find the best learning edge
Continued success requires a constant desire to learn, and knowing where to focus that desire is the best path to effective growth. In a world of increasing connectedness, complexity and digital transformation, HR needs to take the lead to ensure that employees are making the most of learning opportunities available – going both broad and deep beyond honing just technical and professional areas of expertise. For example:

  • Staying abreast of the latest thinking and ideas from complementary professions, including project management, process improvement, strategy and design thinking
  • Buying books on topics that are different to your day job, and challenge your thinking about how you view the world
  • Subscribing to online news, from a wide variety of news outlets so you receive up-to-date information and knowledge from around the world and from different ideological perspectives

3. Change first, not last
HR executives need to take the lead and set the example for successful organisational transformation. It’s easy for HR professionals to help team members or colleagues develop, but forget about their own development. To effectively lead in complex changing environments, HR leaders need to firstly understand themselves and then be open to shifting their mindset, operating style and behaviour to suit the context of the new environment.