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How Do you Become An HR Influencer? (#SHRM14)

    I was lucky enough to attend SHRM 2014.  I always look forward to the SHRM national conference because it is a great way to connect with other HR pros, while learning from some of the best and brightest HR thinkers in the world today.  As I have grown in my career, my focus at these conferences has shifted away from learning the day to day HR functions to how HR can influence and assist the company’s executive team in reaching company goals.

    Two speakers addressed the HR Influence question.   Both speak to how HR can build its business case, or in other words become an HR “Influencer”.

    Bette Francis serves as the Chair, Board of Directors for SHRM.  She spoke on how to expand HR’s influence and how to overcome the “paper-pusher” stereotype.  Bette went on to explain the story of a female HR pro who was left out of the loop due to Friday morning golf outings by her male co-workers.   Bette’s suggestion was for the female HR Pro to drive the golf cart and drink a beer with the group to become one of the “guys.”   I am not naïve enough to overlook the social aspects of work, however I think there is a better lesson SHRM’s Board of Directors Chair could share to the group at large.   

    Luckily I attended a session presented by Jennifer McClure, President of Unbridled Talent.  Jennifer spoke on how to build HR’s business case.  Jennifer gave a step –by-step class on how to build HR’s business case.  Her number one take away – know why you are asking for what you are asking for and be able to prove it.  The best way to prove your case – numbers!  Speak to the company’s bottom line.  Check out her slides at unbridledtalent.com/shrm14.   

    I have thought a lot about the two sessions and the differing advice on how to increase HR’s influence.  As I contrasted the two above, both are intelligent, accomplished females.   Our profession is largely female and I cringe when I think about all the new to HR pros listening to our Chair of the Board of Directors tell us to become “one of the guys” in order to increase your presence.  Thankfully, there are HR leaders such as Ms. McLure.  In Jennifer’s session she actually empowered HR pros to use our influence by providing tools to teach us how to affect the bottom line.  Most C suite executives want numbers, not golfing buddies.

    Submitted by:

    Bobbi Wilson, JD, PHR