Amazing new source of talent found: take a good look at your HR!
Few years back when I transferred from Human Resources (HR) to Business Development in a hard-core technology & manufacturing environment, many people asked me a rhetoric question: “that must have been hard, quite a leap!” Sure there was heaps to learn. However, to me this “leap” felt like a natural continuum of my decades in business management teams, rather than a disruption. Why so? Let me show a few things one can learn in HR roles, and how that could turn into value add in the other parts of the business!
1) HR learns the ins and outs of multiple industries and many functions (R&D, Sales, manufacturing…), many countries and multiple layers of organisation. This means, that HR understands the big picture, the differences and similarities between markets and intentions, and can create valuable cross-references and benchmarking across silos and layers. This also means that HR has vast multi-talented network and can always find someone to ask!
2) As an HR you know how to (e)valuate people: at the same time it means that you are well equipped to evaluate particularly talent dependent and/or start-up companies for example in M&A situations. As a general manager you are able to judge whether your expert team members have what it takes to take their functional tasks towards the goal.
3) HR learns to push his/her case: working with things that everyone thinks they know and many - unfortunately - find “not as important as other investments” in companies means you learn to justify your case and show the benefits. This is a great skill for business casing and also a basis for negotiation, which, by the way, is also likely to be your strength … Even when there are feelings and conflicting interest, your wide toolbox contains ideas, how to avoid dead ends and how to build win-win solution.
4) As an HR, you get to facilitate team development processes, coach individuals, mediate conflicts, host events, contract suppliers, run brainstorming sessions. Is there actually a process facilitation & leadership task that you are NOT equipped to master?
5) Years in HR teach you what it means to make service easy for customers to comprehend and get. HR knows what customer delight looks like, and how to handle unhappy customers. HR knows how to listen carefully to understand the customer problem before jumping into solution. Perhaps HR could be the next customer service champion in your company?
6) Working in HR teaches you to identify what really counts. Over the HR career you need to get the comma on its rightful place (salaries!) and deal with individual cases, without losing sight of the overall direction using the company strategy as a starting point. It is unavoidable that you build a strong skill of prioritization, without losing time or nerves on the (un-sexy) details, when necessary.
So, HR, take a new look at yourself and the learning & career opportunities you have. Business managers, take another good look at your HR team, that could be your new untapped source of business talent!