interview or by the energy they demonstrate. You feel invigorated
from the conversation.
Words He Lives By
Authenticity, transparency and vulnerability. That means it’s
important to me to demonstrate to others who I am, to be clear
about the work we’re doing, and to be honest by saying, “Here’s
what I know and here’s what I don’t know.” It’s important to
clarify your expectations and values and to communicate them.
At the same time, it also helps not to take yourself too seriously.
I learned that from my parents. A sense of humor will help you
in every situation.
I once had a leader tell me, “I want you to be terrified. You are
doing well, but you won’t make that leap to the next level until
you try something that scares you. … You won’t grow without
experiencing a shock to the system.” It was good advice. Often
when you feel nerves and butterflies, that’s when real growth happens. I’ve faced that many times in my career. I tell my younger
workers that if I could get through those periods of discomfort,
they can, too. It’s part of the journey. Learn to embrace it.
Don’t Fence Yourself In
I’d advise young people in HR today to get a breadth of experi-
What HR Needs to Know
ence. Don’t become too siloed. Be open-minded and challenge
your assumptions. Look for opportunities that will broaden
Understand how work gets done in your company, who the end
customers are, and what the levers are in your particular organization and in your business sector. That requires a ton of shadowing, watching, listening and trying not to react before you
fully understand the context of a situation. Ultimately, the role
of HR is to question the unquestionable. But to do that, you have
to know the business. Go deep. And ask, ask, ask. The question
to always answer is “Why? In service to what?”
His Favorite Business Book
The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement (North River
Press, 1984) by Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox. It was given
to me by a business leader I worked with at PepsiCo. It was
his way of telling me what he expected of me. I thought it was
going to be this dry process book, but it’s actually written as
a novel, so there’s a lot of good storytelling. The book underscores the importance of understanding the end value of what
you’re doing. One of the lessons is that HR isn’t just there to
serve itself, it’s there to help a company be profitable and better serve its customers.
Desda Moss is managing editor of HR Magazine.
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