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Want to be among the most strategic HR leaders? Share your impact

Adam Weber, 15Five
Adam Weberhttps://www.15five.com/
Adam Weber is chief evangelist at 15Five, a strategic performance management platform. He is the author of Amazon best-seller "Lead Like a Human,” host of the HR Superstars podcast and a nationally recognized author, speaker and commentator on strategic HR.

This is the final part in a five-part series examining the secrets of the top 5% of HR leaders. You can catch up on parts one, two, three and four.   

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So far in this series about the secrets of the top 5% of HR leaders, we’ve talked about the importance of speaking the language of the business, using metrics and data to back up bold initiatives, showing courage when pitching ideas and activating managers to operationalize your work. I’ve discovered these secrets from my conversations with over 1,000 HR leaders over the past 10 years, and the fifth and final secret focuses on the importance of sharing your impact to instill belief across the company.  

There are so many good-hearted HR people who just don’t sell their work internally. They practice the first four secrets but fall short on telling the team how awesome what they’re doing really is. They are too humble! I can’t overstate the importance of creating an atmosphere of excitement around your work. And to get others excited, you have to be excited about it yourself, and you have to share it. 

That’s what strategic HR leaders do. They tell the world about their work, and they do it often and through multiple channels. This is how they nurture the company culture—reminding everyone in the organization that they’re swimming in the same direction toward big goals that impact the business and beyond. 

The best way to do this so it sticks is to turn your success into stories, such as how your work impacted an individual or how it moved an important business metric. This makes it real. Tell these stories over and over. Share them on Slack, talk about them in team meetings, print them on posters if you have a physical office. Integrate selling your work and showing your impact into every element of what you do.  

By sharing your impact, you create a flywheel effect that accelerates acceptance and helps achieve buy-in the next time you bring forth a big idea. When you roll out new initiatives, it’s critical that you gain buy-in and instill the belief that what you are doing isn’t just some administrative HR task but rather a tool to unlock the growth and potential of the company. You have to surprise and delight the company, and I don’t just mean the executive team. Bring the whole organization along for the journey. Provide business context to the work and people involved, and make it clear why the initiative improved the status quo.

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Hear more from 15Five’s Adam Weber about the secrets of the top 5% of strategic HR leaders during HRE’s upcoming EPIC Conference, April 24-26 in Las Vegas. Click here to register.

4 strategies to share HR’s impact

Here is how strategic HR leaders successfully share the impact of their work across the organization:  

They use multiple channels: HR teams often stick to a single newsletter or communication channel. Make your work as accessible as can be by tapping into every possible communication channel and doing so regularly.  

They craft their message carefully: Speaking the language of the business will allow you to share the impact of your work in a way everyone (especially leadership) will understand and appreciate. 

They share more than once: It’s not enough to send a single message in Slack and hope it sticks. Share updates on a regular basis. 

They get help: If you’re not sure how best to leverage your organization’s communication channels, there’s someone else who is. Talk to them for guidance. Turn the employees directly impacted by your work into advocates for your other initiatives. 

How do the most strategic HR leaders operate?

With that, let’s recap the five secrets of the top 5% of HR leaders: 

Speak the language of the business

Whatever language the business is using, the best HR leaders incorporate that language into their strategy. They get blocked much less than their counterparts because their initiatives and strategies feel like a logical extension of the broader company strategy.  

Use metrics and data to back up bold initiatives

HR leaders now have the platforms and tools to eliminate the guesswork and show the real, tangible impact of their initiatives. Intuition isn’t the way to move successfully through a business issue. You can’t expect executives to simply leap with you without building a case for why they should leap, using compelling data.  

Show courage when pitching

Have confidence and conviction in the ideas you put forth. Do the prep, be ready for hard questions and get yourself into the right headspace so you’re ready to stand behind what you’re about to share. Fight for a yes, or gain full context when you receive a no. 

Activate managers to operationalize your work

HR leaders have this superhero tendency where they try to shoulder all the work without asking for help. The truth is, you can’t do it all on your own. Invest in your partnerships with managers. Their performance determines the organization’s performance.  

Share your impact

Share your success and amplify your bold initiatives at every opportunity possible. Tell stories about what you accomplish that contain business context and shout them from the mountaintops in order to instill belief across the organization.  

The work you do as an HR leader matters. We want everyone at your business to agree, and if you practice these five steps (and I mean really make them part of your daily work), you can join the top 5% of HR leaders, who are having a decidedly different experience than the majority of HR leaders today. They’ve gained executive respect, don’t get blocked very often, are more proactive than reactive and are doing the work they dreamed of when they got into HR.  

HR deserves a seat at the table. Now, go get it.