BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

Five Steps for Workin’ Your HR Office

Posted by ywmguest on July 29, 2009

We love our network of working women advocates. YWM encourages you to take advantage of your HR and Diversity departments. Today’s guest blogger is Leanna Cruz.

positivelymag3You apply for a position at a company. The company is looking for an outstanding candidate to help them to advance their mission. You are rewarded with an offer, and accept, promising to share your skills and knowledge for money, for benefits or perhaps for a career.

Whatever you have decided to exchange them will determine your career opportunities and your relationships. Because the attitude you walk through the door with the first day, and everyday, will determine your rewards.

Take advantage of the resources in the Diversity, Inclusion and Human Resource Offices to accelerate your career advancement.

Hone your networking skills, and initiate and develop relationships in these offices. They know who-is-who, they know the positions, they know the corporate initiatives and they can help you target your efforts. They are also one of the first to know about position openings. Have confidence to ask for guidance.

Top 5 Ways to Best Use Your HR and Diversity Office

1. Create a plan.
Once you have identified the position you would like to hold, create a plan to attain it. Ask for the job responsibility statement and identify the skills and experience you will need to develop.

Your plan should include the experience you can gain from development opportunities your employer offers. Develop opportunities you will need to take on and other positions you can work toward to gain the experience required. Use your network to help you execute your plan. Put more energy toward expanding your network.

2. Develop relationships.
Know who in the organization is truly working toward diversity and inclusion and develop relationships with them. Ask about initiatives to include, retain and develop employees. Ask for clarification so that you understand how they can help you with your career aspirations. Expecting a promotion simply because the corporation supports diversity and inclusion is naive. These offices are partly created to encourage your participation in the success of your career which is ultimate your responsibility. Look at them as a crutch which supports a desire to walk, but the walking and utilization of the crutch is ultimately the walker’s responsibility.

3. Honesty is the best policy.
Be honest about your skills and know that skills and ability are the primary considerations to fill vacant positions. Receive feedback from performance reviews with an open mind and as an opportunity to improve.

In addition to this feedback ask for critical input from someone you trust to understand what is required to succeed and who will give you an honest critique about the skills you need to develop. If you ask for feedback from someone you respect, trust it. You will be hurt and not have the opportunity to gain the skills necessary if someone gives you politically correct feedback.

Click through the jump for the rest of the Top 5

Honesty is the best policy (cont)
Here’s an example: In a previous career, I had been helping my staff at a medical center to identify opportunities to use their skills, knowledge and talents to collaborate and get to know colleagues in other departments. Linda approached me about presenting for the Education and Development Department. My feedback was that she was not ready and I outlined the reasons why, offering her tools to improve her presentation skills. I offered to help her with presentation opportunities once she developed those skills.

positivelymag2She chose to ignore my advice believing I did not want to help her advance her career. She approached the Department with her offer to present, which they accepted. Since she was so determined I suggested she present to those of us with whom she was most comfortable, so that we could give her feedback. She declined.

On the day of her presentation, I sent a colleague to the presentation and asked him to step in if necessary during Q&A. After the presentation she thanked me for sending him because he was able to answer all of the questions she was unable to answer.

Here comes the painful part. The Education and Development Department would not release the evaluations completed by the attendees, so I sent her to their office to review them. She stood in front of me shocked and embarrassed about the feedback on the evaluations and finally decided to take the advice I had given previously. Unfortunately her reputation was damaged and her attempts to get on the presentation schedule again were denied.

Previously she had been very vocal about being held back and overlooked voicing her theories. The news about her presentation skills and lack of knowledge spread rapidly through the network of close to 10,000 employees. She finally admitted that her lack of ascent was due to her lack of skill and ability – not to any social reason – and soon left the company to return to her hometown in another state. Be honest about your abilities and seek and trust honest feedback.

positivelymag14. Present your ideas.
When you do have a good idea which will positively impact strategy, department policy, marketing efforts, efficiency etc., present it. Speak up and get noticed with positive, thoughtful suggestions. This is essential for career advancement. If you present your suggestion verbally, follow up with supporting information in writing, copy your HR Office for your employee file, your boss, committee chair or other relevant individuals. This conveys commitment to the company’s success, allows you to remind those who you shared your suggestion with and demonstrates that you are a valuable contributor to corporate strategy.

5. Show ‘em what you’ve got.
Look at your position as an opportunity to show off your skills, knowledge and talent. Look at the corporation you work for as a place to gain informal education and experience. Approach both with a positive attitude since negative attitudes tend to repel and close doors making networking and relationship building, including those in your HR, Diversity and Inclusion Offices, more difficult. You need relationships with those who have the information and influence to attain your career goals within a corporation.

Remember, if you are exchanging your skills, knowledge and time for money, vacation and other benefits only, chances are your promotions will be limited and few. If, on the other hand, you are sharing your skills and knowledge, confident that you can make a difference in the advancement of the organization’s mission and are savvy enough to explore the opportunities for career advancement, then your rewards including financial, vacation and other benefits will be endless.

Leanna Cruz is editorial director for Positively Magazine a personal and professional development magazine. The Positively Successful issue has several articles and stories with ideas to tailor your career to maximize your elevation to the C-Suite.

photo credit

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