Learn to Be Disruptive–It's a Great Career Move

Every year we hear about “talent trends” that are supposed to become our priorities. Often, if the research behind the claims is strong, these trends are informative. But if you hang around the profession for a few years, you’ll find that the same issues are listed again and again and again.

Does that mean we should ignore this kind of research, put our heads down and keep a laser focus on our project goals? I don’t think that’s enough. Let’s face it, if the same issues keep coming up over years, let alone decades, we’re the ones to blame.

If you shake your head when you hear about talent scarcity or manager inadequacy AGAIN, the feeling that should follow is not boredom but a craving for creative disruption. Most organizations can — and should — make headway on productivity-draining institutionalized obstacles, and Human Resources can lead the way if we learn how.

Have we made big strides over the past ten years in our various specialties: Compensation, benefits, training, recruitment and so on? You bet. But if you look closely, you’ll notice that the most striking changes have been in administrative efficiency. Important to financials and time management, but of limited strategic impact on your business. Sticking to “low hanging fruit” has come at an accumulating cost over the years–Human Resources is still not expected at the table when business issues are being addressed.

But we would be if we learned how to become influential upstarts. Big ideas can overcome longstanding, ingrained practices. The 2016 Mercer Global Talent Trends Study announced three Human Resource trends to understand and address sooner rather than later: Competition from emerging markets is rising (reducing talent access); talent demand continues to outstrip supply (in spite of increased mobility and worldwide talent sourcing); the labor pool is increasingly diverse, multi-generational and global (with reliably damning things to say about their managers).

If your immediate reaction is: a) Heard it all before; or b)These issues don’t apply to my company or my responsibilities, it’s a shame because if that’s your impulse, it’s likely to be your managers’, too. And the last thing you want in this economy is a group of managers who are insular and shortsighted while change keeps accelerating at such an uncomfortable pace.

Employees are living in a highly complex work environment. They read about these trends and the changing job market every day. They need managers who not only help them perform better in their skill domain, but also help them understand how to look ahead to where your industry and their career potential is evolving.

Everyone, including Human Resources, is longing for compelling careers. Of course, that means career development programs, but it also means disruptive “new think” on the part of Human Resources. Each and every one of us has the power to help make work more compelling and relevant for our managers, employees and ourselves.

Mercer found that only 15% of their participant companies have a systematic curriculum for developing Human Resource professionals — otherwise known as you and me. Here’s an easy kickoff to your new disruptive mindset. It took me 20 minutes to find out that Mercer, Willis Towers Watson, the Cornell ILR School, Wharton and the University of California, Berkeley have Human Resource curricula. Much of it goes beyond the technical focus of WorldatWork and SHRM certifications into areas of leadership, diversity and inclusion, change management and so on. There are on-line courses as well as seminars. There are more options in your neighborhood.

Make two upstart decisions in 2017. Find the most sophisticated and demanding course(s) to challenge yourself — rather than just the most convenient — and create a strategy to overcome push back when the question of course fees come up. The market has improved for most of our businesses over the last few years, so the money’s there somewhere. If it helps you develop the right attitude to break down barriers — those dollars are an investment in your career as well as the future of your company.

Margaret O’Hanlon, CCP brings deep expertise to discussions on employee pay, performance management, career development and communications at the Café. Her firm, re:Think Consulting, provides market pay information and designs base salary structures, incentive plans, career paths and their implementation plans. Earlier, she was a Principal at Willis Towers Watson. Margaret is a Board member of the Bay Area Compensation Association (BACA). She coauthored the popular eBook, Everything You Do (in Compensation) Is Communications, a toolkit that all practitioners can find at https://gumroad.com/l/everythingiscommunication.

This post originally appeared on Compensation Cafe
Author: Margaret O’Hanlon