What You Wish You Knew For Your Global HR Career

Warren Heaps – Birches Group LLC

I spotted a question recently from one of my LinkedIn connections, Don Schepens, that I want to share with you.  Don is the head of the HR program at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta (Canada), and is also very involved in the human resources community there through the Human Resources Institute of Alberta.

The question:

“For those of you who have been around for a while (seasoned?), and to help out my HR students, “What is the one thing you wish you would have known starting out?”

I thought this was a great question, and of course, provided an answer to Don.

My answer:

“Be a business person first, HR expert second.  Also, take time to assess a new situation by disabling your mouth and enabling your ears.  In other words, listen, A LOT, before speaking.”

So, what would your answer be?

Share it in the comments, so we all may benefit from our collective experiences!

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8 responses to “What You Wish You Knew For Your Global HR Career

  1. Pingback: What You Wish You Knew For Your Global HR Career - International HR Forum - Member Blogs - HR Blogs - HR Space from Personnel Today and Xpert HR

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  3. Nikki Goodstein

    Hi Warren – great question. My response is: most everyone has something to offer, it just might not be readily apparent and may take patience to discover. Take time to understand other perspectives – it will expand your own knowledge.

  4. Thanks Nikki. Consistent with my thoughts on listening.

  5. This is a great discussion and as a newcomer to the HR world, I am anxious to see if I can learn new things. I’m frustrated though because it seems like HR is extremely cut-throat and I’m just not finding anyone to give me a shot – even the “entry-level” HR Assistant positions require you to have experience. I have over 7 years of medical background, yet because it’s not actual HR experience, it doesn’t count.

    Does anyone have suggestions on how I can find a position? I’m also a non-traditional student and can’t really do the unpaid internships. I hear from a lot of people to “invest” in my future – however it’s rather hard when I don’t have the luxury of being 20 and living with my parents and not having financial obligations.

  6. Kenneth Sexton

    Hey Warren – this should be the first question for every prospective business person let alone someone entering HR. In addtiion to the comments above I would add as a business professional you will grow and be rewarded by solving problems. This means you need to dig in and learn the customers issues, then look for solutions. I also feel strongly that to solve problems and create ideas/solutions you need to read alot (your area as well as your customers publications), network with people who are good (in any crowd of professionals I gravitate towards the top 3-5 people with ideas), these as you suggest are very often not the ones who speak the most. You have many avenues in HR to grow, I moved from the Business Partner role (Generalist) to the thought leader role (Compensation + Benefits) and long ago felt I belonged on the analytical side.

    The world is actually a very small place, learn less about where you live and more about where business is growing, “think globally” means learning and networking with new colleagues on a regular basis. The new HR movers and shakers will know more about global issues, developing and developed market issues that will assist the company in moving forward, you progress as the company recognizes your value.

    Lastly, although not popular the HR person needs to many times take the unpopular position in the room – you get paid to make honest assessments and provide frank observations/recommendations, not for being popular. Regards!

  7. Warren,

    Great advice! Listening and being a business person first will do wonders for any career but especially HR. K. Sexton also makes a good point concerning the ability to solve problems. The only thing I would add is to become an “internal consultant”. Find out what your “clients” need from HR and find ways to deliver results to help them reach their goals.