by Laurie Ruettimann
30 Mar 2021
The Great HR Reset: You Deserve The Opportunity to Learn, Too
Sometimes, human resources professionals forget they are employees, too. They selflessly recommend company-wide learning strategies that encourage people to own their careers, strengthen their capabilities, and embrace the art and science of coaching and feedback. But when it comes to their career journeys, HR never puts itself first. That’s got to change.
As we learned from COVID-19 and the impact on the global economy, HR must be ready for what’s next before it happens. But how do you avoid operating from a framework of anxiety in which you spend hours worrying about the next pandemic, another economic crisis, or the employee in a field office who is having a mental health crisis and needs help?
One way to get ahead of the news cycle is to invest in your professional development, which fuels resilience and adaptability. When you’re learning, you are growing. When you are growing, you are thriving. Learning takes your brain to the next level and makes you ready for whatever may come.
But how can you invest in yourself when you work for an organization with limited resources and a culture that’s running scared from the coronavirus? Lucky for you, it’s 2021. The “University of The Internet” is free. Also, many good old-fashioned books are free. Libraries are still open. Librarians miss you. And if you want great book recommendations to upskill and be ready for the Great HR Reset, I have some suggestions for you.
Dialing Into Industry Trends
I recently participated in a webinar with Dr. Jeff Miller, Chief Learning Officer and VP of Organizational Effectiveness at Cornerstone, on what it takes to successfully navigate the changing world of HR. As a long-time educator, he believes authors and thought leaders are an essential resource for recognizing industry trends and getting ahead of the curve. Luckily, two luminaries wrote terrific books on the future of HR.
Lars Schmidt is a Virginia-based human resources expert and author of “Redefining HR: Transforming People Teams to Drive Business Performance.” The book offers a fresh take on human resources and people operations. It's both an in-depth guide to the fundamental components of modern HR but also provides a realistic framework for practitioners, people leaders, and business executives. If you follow Lars on Twitter, you know he’s passionate about HR practitioners. This book is for them, with insights and advice from HR and talent-focused leaders at Hubspot, Reddit, Stripe, Mastercard, Eventbrite, VaynerMedia, and Asana. I highly recommend the book, as well as following Lars on LinkedIn.
Kris Dunn is a Birmingham-based HR leader, entrepreneur, and blogger who created The HR Capitalist and Fistful of Talent. He wrote a groundbreaking book called “The 9 Faces of HR: A Disruptor's Guide to Mastering Innovation and Driving Real Change.” Kris argues that every HR professional on the planet can be classified as one of 9 “Faces” based on your career level and ability to innovate and drive change.
The book opens with a behavioral assessment to quickly identify your own “HR Face” and then reveals career tracks, behavioral markers, macro-trends driving behavior, and market demand for each face. There’s never been another book like it, and you should follow Kris on LinkedIn to stay up to date with his other innovative ideas.
The Role of Risk Management
Taking risks at work can be scary, especially when so much is on the line. How can you be creative and innovative and reset your HR department in a post-COVID environment when the fear of failure is real?
I have written extensively about the benefits of using a premortem to understand risk and opportunities. Another way to improve your chance of success is to learn how others manage fear and achieve remarkable breakthroughs by embracing different cognitive models. Thankfully, I have two books to suggest.
The first is “Seeing What Others Don't: The Remarkable Ways We Gain Insights” by Dr. Gary Klein. In his research, Klein discovered that we know very little about when, why, or how insights are formed — or what blocks them and causes risk. The book takes us through concrete examples of people who overcame odds and had breakthrough moments. Klein also examines barriers to insight, such as when organizations claim to value employee creativity and collaboration but block disruptive ideas and prioritize avoidance of mistakes. If that sounds like your company, you’ll want to read this book.
The second book is “ALIEN Thinking: The Unconventional Path to Breakthrough Ideas.” Cyril Bouquet, Jean-Louis Barsoux, and Michael Wade are professors of innovation and strategy at IMD Business School. They have studied inventors, scientists, doctors, entrepreneurs, and artists. These people are “aliens” who make leaps of creativity without the fear of failure. The authors offer five patterns of thinking that distinguish them from the rest of us and give examples of how we can overcome barriers — like time and budget — to accomplish audacious goals.
New Ways of Thinking About Calculating ROI
How do you calculate the ROI of doing the right thing at work? How do you make a case for change when your organization doesn’t see the value in such important initiatives as diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging? What’s the return on being a decent human being?
It’s tough to recommend only two books in this category, but I’d start with Kim Scott’s new book called “Just Work: Get Sh*t Done, Fast & Fair.” The book offers a framework for respecting everyone’s individuality while also working and collaborating more effectively, driving more significant revenue and profitability. Kim relies on data and storytelling, and it’s a good lesson on how to make your point using both.
Did you know that the U.S. economy lost $16 trillion because of racism? It’s clear through data that the ROI of doing in our organizations is disastrous. That’s why I recommend “Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do.” In this book by Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt, she offers us new ideas and a language to face bias, discrimination, and institutional racism. She also provides tools to address bias within ourselves and our organizations. This is a must-read book for The Great HR Reset.
Strategic Thinking: Embrace a More Flexible Mindset
When I began my career in human resources, nobody believed HR was a strategic function. Now, COVID has shown us the immediate and long-term value of a strategically operating human resources department. But what if our teams aren’t there yet?
The truth is that some HR departments are held back by themselves. That’s why I recommend reading “The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table” by Minda Harts. It’s part manifesto, part memoir, and tells the story of how corporations get in their way by making assumptions about who is a talented contributor and who isn’t. Minda provides straight talk on how to navigate dysfunctional behaviors that are antithetical to strategic thinking. This book is a masterclass on what companies can do to reinstitute critical thinking within their ranks.
Dr. Jeff Miller is a big fan of the book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.” Written by Stanford University psychologist Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., she shows how success can be influenced by how we think about our talents and abilities. People with a “fixed mindset” (those who believe that abilities can’t change) are less likely to flourish than those with a “growth mindset” (those who think that skills and abilities can be developed). This book is excellent for HR professionals who want to move their organizations away from pre-pandemic programs and policies and to a future of growth and abundance.
The Big Three: Negotiation, Resourcefulness, and Compromise
The final skills that HR professionals need to master for The Great HR Reset are negotiation, resourcefulness, and compromise. But it’s not like you’ll wake up one morning with those skills. You need to learn them deliberately.
The first book I’d recommend is “Digital Body Language: How to Build Trust and Connection, No Matter the Distance” by Erica Dhawan. Even if the pandemic suddenly ends tomorrow, we know that the next crisis is just around the corner. The workforce spent most of 2020 acclimating to a remote and hybrid work environment. Everybody struggles with a deluge of email, text messaging, and poor communication skills. You can’t move HR forward if you’re lost in translation.
In her book coming out in May 2021, Erica investigates corporate communication styles and tools and offers insights and solutions to build trust and clarity. I received an advance copy from the publisher, and this is on my must-read list for HR professionals in 2021.
Dr. Jeff Miller recommends a book called “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.” Written by Robert B. Cialdini, this critically acclaimed book teaches six universal principles of influence and how to use them to become a skilled persuader. If you’re committed to rethinking the future of work, this book is required reading for your entire HR team.
You Deserve The Opportunity to Learn
Whether you’re a VP of Human Resources or an emerging HRBP, one thing is clear: you are an employee, too, and you deserve the opportunity to learn. Your organization’s growth is constrained when your professional development suffers.
Not every company has robust learning technology platforms, but everybody in HR can improve themselves by reading a few more books. So, pick one book from the ten I’ve suggested and start your learning journey today. Do it to help your company adjust to the new normal of a post-COVID world, but more importantly, do it for your personal growth.
Want more insights about the Great HR Reset?
Download the full guide by Laurie Ruettiman with insights from top leaders and inspiring experts such as Jason Lauritsen, author of Unlocking High Performance; Jeff Miller, PhD, Chief Learning Officer of Cornerstone; Hung Lee, talent acquisition expert and publisher of "Recruiting Brainfood;" and more!
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