7 Ways To Build Your Credibility in HR — And Knock Your Clients’ Socks Off!

By Alan Collins | successinhr.com/hr-credibility

Building your credibility in HR with your clients is one the most important things you can do to continually advance your career forward.

Knowing the business cold, talking the language of your clients, customizing your ideas and solutions so they meet your client’s needs, not yours – are just a few of the actions you should take to make this happen.

And all this starts with doing the homework.  To that end, here are 7 ways to do the groundwork necessary to build your knowledge of the business and your credibility in HR:

#1:  Get Out in the Trenches!

(1) If your company has manufacturing plants, get out on the floor with the folks on the frontline who make the product. Talk to them about THEIR issues, not yours. As a junior HR generalist, I was told: “You need to get out and walk the plant floor on regular basis. That’s the best way of getting a pulse beat on the business. In fact, if you don’t have to get a new pair of safety shoes every six months, you’re not doing your job.”

(2) Get some of your sales reps to let you go on sales calls with them to learn the needs of the customers and consumers of your business. Or set aside a few hours on a regular basis and watch how your customer service reps deal pissed off customers and irate calls. Customers are the lifeblood of any organization.

(3) Whenever possible, set up routine meetings with your colleagues in Purchasing, Engineering, Marketing and R&D on their turf (not yours) to learn the challenges they face in their area of the organization. Make this one of your weekly priorities.
#2:  Start a Reading Program!

Become familiar with the strategic business plans for your unit. Read your company’s annual report. Read the same industry trade publications or investor reports that your business leaders read. Beef up your grasp of balance sheets and P&L statements. To help, you may want to google: “How To Read A Financial Report” published by Merrill Lynch and download it online.
#3:  Make Finance Your Friend!

You don’t have to bug the crap out of your CFO. Instead, find a financial manager who helps pull the numbers that show how the business is performing. Lunch and learn with him or her. Get their coaching on how your business makes money. Build a relationship. Offer to return the favor by becoming a resource to them on HR issues.
#4:  Bond with Investor Relations!

If you’re in a publicly traded company, the folks in the Investor Relations (IR) group are the key story tellers who have to explain to shareholders everything from the latest SEC filing to the quarterly earnings or latest product launches. When they’re not scrambling to meet a disclosure deadline, schedule a working lunch with them to understand the big picture. Pay for their meal. It’s time and money well spent.
#5:  Get on the Distribution Lists!

Many Finance, IR, Strategy or Competitive Intelligence functions in companies have distribution lists for financial updates, analyst reports, competitor news and legislative and regulatory issues.
Get on the list (often it’s the same list for everyone). If the data is good enough for your business leaders, it’s good enough for you. If you find it tough to get copied on the distribution list, ask your business leader or your CHRO to make the request for you.
#6: Wire Yourself!

Gather your own news and insights. Subscribe to RSS feeds or Google alerts on what’s being written in social media about your company, its competitors and your industry. This puts you in the know as fast as any senior executive in your company. Knowledge is power. Don’t rely only on what others can gather for you.
#7:  Tune in to Earnings Calls!

If you’re in a publicly traded company, listen to the quarterly earnings call with the analysts…especially the Q&A segment at the end of the call. Or read the transcripts. It’s a good way to get a concise recap of the strategy story that your company is telling and gain insights on what investors – and your business leaders — are excited and worried about.

Doing these things on a regular basis will build your credibility as an HR professional to an unbelievable level, give you massive amounts of confidence and will knock your clients socks off.

If you DON’T know your business cold, you will lessen your credibility and forever be relegated to the back of the bus in your organization.

And that’s not where you need to be.

Your business desperately needs you as an HR pro upfront with your hands on the wheel helping to steer the bus.

It’s the only way THEY can win and YOU can win…BIG!

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