I'm sure we all have moments in our day to day where we're doing a particular task or working our way through a standard process and we think "I know how this could be better." Having the ideas isn't the hard part — HR teams have to be creative with limited resources every day. What's hard is getting the whole organization behind those ideas and driving the changes you know are needed to support your people and your business better.
So how do you own your vision and ideas and get traction for them? I know that sounds like a huge question to answer with all the other responsibilities you need to manage, but there's good news — it doesn't start with that big picture. It starts with you.
Let's take a quick look at three ways you can set yourself up for success and start owning your vision.
1. Define your blueprint for goal setting
Making change starts with being clear about what you want to — and realistically can — accomplish. That means setting actionable goals for yourself so you have a clear path forward to make change happen. This may sound a lot like the lead-in to a typical performance management program outline, but I promise it's not.
Remember all those great ideas we were just talking about? Well, good goal setting is the first step in making those a reality. After all, if you can put practical steps in place for yourself that align with your vision for the future, it makes it easier to work with stakeholders and employees on their goals and connect everyone's efforts together.
Here are three questions to ask yourself when it comes to forming a goal setting blueprint:
- What needs to happen before you can write goals? There's a lot that goes on before you can put pen to paper and write down your goals. Think about how you frame the areas you've identified so it's easy to see the impact they'll have on the business. What tangible actions can you take to bring your goal from an idea to reality? How are you measuring progress? Make sure you're mapping out practical steps so you can communicate your plans.
- How do you test your goal setting process? It can be difficult to focus when you're filtering through everything you want to accomplish. Start with one high-priority area and test how you'd flow that through all the steps to accomplish that goal.
- What's needed to make goal setting repeatable? This is where the blueprint part really comes in. Now that you have an idea of what goes into writing achievable goals and the steps you'll go through to achieve them, it's time to put resources in place that let you consistently develop, set, and execute on goals. Having that all packaged up will help you extend your work to others in your organization and communicate your vision with them.
2. Get executive buy-in
Setting your own goals clearly is a great step, but how do you get the resources behind your HR team needed to accomplish those goals, especially if they're ambitious? That takes having business leaders in your corner who understand your vision. To build that kind of relationship with your executives and advocate for the tools and best practices you believe will help you make change, you need to show the practical value of your HR initiatives for people and the business.
Making this level of connection with executives takes time, but you can take several steps to optimize your efforts here:
- Learn to speak executive. Think about the vocabulary your leadership team uses and what terms, topics, and phrases resonate with them and the goals they set for the company. Beyond that, think about how you use that language to demonstrate the needs you have and how HR can contribute to strategic business conversations.
- Highlight key metrics. Ideally your HR team will be tracking a bunch of different stats across the employee life cycle. Think about which of these tie to business impacts, like turnover or overtime, to reinforce your case with your executives.
- Proactively embrace business goals. Listen to the direction your leaders are setting for your organization, and think about how you could reinforce those items with the vision you have for HR. Don't wait to be told business strategy — instead, make sure you're getting ahead of these conversations, seizing opportunities to spend time with executives, and connecting what you learn to HR initiatives.
- Find allies in your organization. Work collaboratively to build your case for change and find common ground with other members of your organization like payroll, managers, and other stakeholders you work with like IT or sales. Highlight the benefits you could all gain so you can present a unified front to executives.
3. Focus on management practices
A big part of turning your vision for HR into a reality is holding yourself to the highest standards when managing others so you can in turn pass those standards on to managers across the organization. Getting a simple, practical action plan in place for reflecting on management practices and using them to reinforce the bigger picture you're aiming for will make a big difference in both your effectiveness and the effectiveness of other managers across the company.
A strong management action plan starts with three core elements:
- Result: What do you really want from a particular goal or management initiative?
- Purpose: Why do you want it?
- Action: What specific actions can you take to make that happen?
This is a really high-level starting point, but going through the process as you set priorities for yourself and your team can lead to focused conversations that center on your vision and get everyone inspired to achieve it.
Conclusion: It's time to dig deep and make your vision a reality
I've just scratched the surface with these summaries, but I've got good news — we're exploring all of the topics I mentioned in-depth at our next HR & Payroll eSymposium. In our Own Your Vision track, you'll get practical tips from our experts about setting goals, communicating with leaders, and managing people. You'll also get credits toward your SHRM, APA, HRCI, HRPA, CPHR-SK, and National Payroll Institute certifications for most of the sessions. Also did I mention it's free? Hope to see you there.