A Strategic Approach for HR Pros and Leaders to Avoid Becoming Irrelevant

A Strategic Approach for HR Pros and Leaders to Avoid Becoming Irrelevant

The worst thing you can do, as a leader, manager or HR professional, is to allow yourself to become irrelevant—especially to the people you are responsible for developing.

To remain relevant, you need to stay current with the latest assessment and development trends and tools, and to continue to develop yourself so that you remain a leader in whom people can believe.

Read on as we provide five guidelines for staying current and offer five strategies to further your own development.

5 Guidelines for Staying Current

  1. Be Open - It’s critical to be open to the idea that there are better ways to do things. If you believe that you have the best answers, you’ll miss out on better solutions when they come along.
  2. Stay Curious - Healthy curiosity leads to strategic thinking.
  3. Be vulnerable - If you don’t allow yourself to admit that you don’t have all of the best ideas and solutions and fail to invite others in to share their ideas and options, you won’t benefit from what others have to offer.
  4. Take chances - “Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.” — Mary Tyler Moore
  5. Be Patient - It’s easy to underestimate how long it takes for real change and progress to take place. Give new ideas time to take hold.

5 Strategies for Your Personal Development

Choose at least two of the following strategies to step outside of your current environment and stay up on business trends and solutions.

1. Read

Read specialized publications, blogs and websites by experts that focus on development and general business sources that report strategies, methodologies, and tools and how they are being applied.

Some we like include:

  • Workforce magazine
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • ddiworld.com
  • Fast Company
  • Harvard Business Review
  • The New York Times business section
  • Mindful Magazine
  • Forbes and Fortune magazines

These are, of course, only a few of many, many sources for developmental and business information. Choose your favorites, add them to a reading list, and commit to reading them on a regular basis.

2. Get Out There!

Go to conferences and professional presentations, and visit other organizations that are getting the results that you want. It is easy to get caught up in how your organization is doing things, which can limit your ideas and solutions. Identify opportunities that can keep you current, including but not limited to:

  • Professional organization conferences
  • Leadership forums
  • Business school executive programs

The publications and blogs on your reading list are great resources for identifying these opportunities.

3. Work the Room.

Do you have a robust professional network? Do you have regular conversations with peers, mentors, mentees, and colleagues inside and outside of your organization? If the answer to both of these questions is anything but a clear yes, you need to dedicate time to building a mutually beneficial network. Too many of us pay attention to our network only when we need a new job; that approach is shortsighted and benefits only you. Consider the following to build an active and rewarding professional network:

  • Be Awesome. We all want to be around people who are positive and energetic and do things for us. Be one of those whom others want to be around.
  • Be Helpful. Take opportunities to do things for others that help them reach their objectives. Most of us are happy to help others and gain satisfaction from doing so.
  • Be Intentional. Who should be in your network? How will you build a relationship with these individuals? In 2012, Forbes published a list of the top 10 people who should be in your network that still holds true today:
  1. The mentor
  2. The coach
  3. The industry insider
  4. The trendsetter
  5. The connector
  6. The idealist
  7. The realist
  8. The visionary
  9. The partner
  10. The wannabe
  • Be Patient. Developing an effective professional network takes time, and the network evolves over time. By following these steps and keeping at it, you will have a network that is mutually beneficial and pays long-term dividends.

4. Get Feedback

The only way to get a truly accurate view of how you are doing is from feedback from colleagues and members of your network. Make it easy for them to give objective and actionable feedback by asking questions like these:

  • I have been working on (insert skill or behavior). How do you think I’m doing with this skill?
  • I’m seeking input from participants in our new leadership initiative. I would like your input regarding our first session. What two components do you feel were the most effective and which were the least effective?
  • How effective was I when I delivered my business case for the second phase of our program?
  • What three things should I do to improve my facilitation skills?

These three questions have three things in common that you should strive for when asking feedback questions: they are open-ended, situation-specific, and targeted at a specific skill or deliverable.

5. Hit the Refresh Button

Schedule an annual checkup for yourself that examines how effective your assessment and development work is relative to the organization’s needs. To help you remember to conduct this checkup, add it to your annual performance review process. Here is a diagnostic to help you stay focused.

  • Which publications are you reading on a regular basis?
  • Have you gained ideas and resources from these publications, and are they still the right ones for you?
  • What conferences and other external events have you attended over the past year?
  • Do you see a return on your investment of time and money in these external events?
  • What is the status of your professional network? Have you added to your network? Have members of your network tapped you as a resource? Whom do you need to add to your network, and how will you achieve this?
  • Did you ask for feedback? What did you do with that feedback?
  • What is your strategy for staying up to date and relevant in the coming year?

The insights in this post are adapted from The Talent Assessment and Development Pocket Tool Kit, co-written by Connect the Dots Managing Director Brenda Hampel.