I’ve had skin in the HR game for over five years now. I’ve had my history lesson on how Personnel was created and then evolved to Human Resources and have seen the desperate fight to “have a seat at the table.” Now that we have “the seat” HR is evolving into Human Capital Management and being a Strategic Business partner/leader.
Raise your hand if you just won buzzword bingo. lol
One of the unique elements I have seen in this evolution is how the movers and shakers in HR and those that truly have “seats” or consult understand the greater picture of what business really is – all the moving parts of what is sold, why it is sold, how it is sold, how it is created, how materials are obtained to create it, the books are managed, people are managed, and profit made.
Being strategic, one must not just know all that and juggle it, but also see life through that perspective so that opportunities can be seen and taken at a moment’s notice, policies and procedures shifted smoothly and swiftly to stay on top of the market and social media/PR.
Let me give a non-HR centric example. Recently I had the pleasure of attending a book signing for a local chef (Kevin Gillespie of Woodfire Grill and soon Gunshow, season6 of Top Chef) that had “made it.” I have friends that either currently or previously have worked in the restaurant business; I’ve done my time washing pots and serving food (although in a hospital, not a restaurant); and I’ve seen more than my fair share of tv shows like Next Iron Chef, Next Food Network Star, Top Chef, Food Truck Race, various Anthony Bordain shows, Kitchen Nightmares, Dinner/Restaurant Impossible, etc. to have an idea of what goes into the varying levels of chefdom and how a restaurant operates successfully.
There are chefs that love to cook and are good at it. There are celebrity chefs that on top of loving and being good at what they do, also have personality. It is possible to be either of those and not successful in the long run. To be successful as a chef one must think beyond their kitchen, beyond that restaurant, and to branch out to writing cook books, taking part in competitions, consulting, and various ways of getting their name out there which may or may not include tv shows. (Sounds pretty familiar right – work thine behind off, diversify your work portfolio and ye shall be fruitful. This formula translates into most roles and businesses.)
Listening to Kevin speak I heard true genius. Not only is he a culinary master (making it to the finale of Top Chef as an example), he has the down to earth personality that makes him likable, has grit and gumption, and business savvy. His cookbook Fire In My Belly is a cookbook like none other, and he meant for it to be that way. He thinks outside the box and isn’t afraid to act outside of it either. Those certainly strike me as sign posts for strategic leadership and success.
To toot my own horn, I picked up on his savvy and asked if he planned for future books to better describe the business of being a chef – the short answer is yes. I’m already mentally planning on getting his trio of books (Fire and the next two in the series as Kevin described them) for my brother in law who is an executive chef. (Good salesmanship, Kevin!)
Going back to the idea of being a business leader and partner coming from the Human Resources discipline, it is our role to see this bigger picture for our good, the good of our company, and the good of our profession. We are not just paper pushers that say no and hide behind a desk. We get out there, nourish talent to be the best it can be; look at the whole ecosystem of the company, industry, and economy to do the best possible for everyone. That is what being a real partner is and should be.