7 HR Career Regrets You Must Bury Before 2017 Ends….

By Alan Collins

Everyone has regrets.

Especially when it comes to our careers in HR.

We all make mistakes we wish we could take back.

We all have things we wish we could do over.

We all have things we wish we could we could have done differently.

However, as this year comes to a close, it’s time to do a reset for next year.

And to do that here are seven career regrets you absolutely need to bury and let go of in 2017if you want to have a phenomenal 2018!

Regret #1:
Despising your HR job.    


Life’s too short to spend it slaving away doing stuff that makes you miserable, buries your passions and discounts your strengths.

Here’s what I mean.  One of my former HR director colleagues is the best group facilitator I’ve ever seen. He can engage and inspire any audience.  And would excel in any leadership training or organization development role.

But he’s buried in a Compensation Director’s job where he approves executive job evaluations and analyzes data all day long.

What a waste of talent!

He was moved there as a developmental move three years ago.

But he’s been in that job too long and hates it.

Don’t get me wrong. Developmental assignments in HR are the best way to build experience fast.  However, it’s frustrating staying in a position that’s no longer challenging.

In your HR role, if you’re feeling like a square peg in a round hole – for whatever reason — resolve to end that as you move into 2018.

Just let it go.

Regret #2:
Not growing your HR skills.

Your brain was not meant to soak up all the HR knowledge you need by age 22, and then shut down.

As soon as you quit learning and growing, you will die a slow death in HR.

If you think about it, that’s what made human resources work so much fun in the first place — that ridiculously crazy learning curve you were on.  At times, you may have felt like you were drinking from a fire hydrant, but it was also a blast.

It’s critical to your HR career (and your self-respect) that you keep learning and growing.  As soon as you begin to get too comfortable, resting on what you already know, you’ll also start to get stale.

And before you know it, some devious, arrogant little prick disguised as a one of your colleagues will show up and start kicking your butt intellectually and with new ideas…in meetings, with your clients and in front of your boss.  And soon you’ll work for this jerk.

What do you do to ward this off?

Next year, commit to yourself that you will add at least ONE new skill to your bag of tricks.
Or get even more amazing at some of the skills you already possess.
Or deepen your knowledge of your company’s business.
Or becoming better at developing talent.
Or engaging employees.
Or using social media, artificial intelligence, metrics or data analytics in HR.
Or exploring whatever the wild frontiers exist in your HR specialty.

You don’t have study like you’re trying to pass an HR certification exam.  But make sure you’re being challenged in picking up this new know-how.

Making a commitment like this will give you a nice refreshing dip back in the deep end of the pool where the big fish in HR swim.

Regret #3:
Not wowing your business leaders.

You don’t get respect from your business leaders if you only show up when the place is in flames.  Or if you are there to convince them to implement some new time-consuming, valueless HR corporate program they had no input in developing.

If that’s the only time you see them or talk to them, you’re just a bureaucrat. You’re just “HR.”   Not a business partner.  And you’ll never develop the kind of relationship with them needed to become their trusted advisor and a fixer of problems BEFORE they come up – which is the role they desperately want you to play.

It’s time to let this go.  Today.  Right here.  Right now.

In 2018, resolve that you will spend more time with your clients adding value.

Go in the field with them or on their turf when things ARE going well.  Do this no matter if they reside on the next street or in the next time zone.  Get to know them.  Really know them.  That way when you’re faced with the thankless task of twisting their arm to implement that new mandatory time-consuming corporate talent initiative, you’ve got a strong foundation of trust from which to operate.

To set the stage for all this you must also over-deliver.

Start giving your business leaders 20% more than they expect.  Consistently. And enjoy doing it. For example: If they were expecting you to deliver three resumes for candidates for their Finance Director’s opening, then do it.  But don’t just do a resume drop.  In addition, provide your personalized, bullet-pointed assessment highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of each of these candidates along with your best advice.

These are little things that will differentiate you from the rest of the pack.

And will turn your business leaders…and all of your clients into raving fans.

And set your career on fire.

Regret #4:
Not being a better HR team leader. 

As an HR leader, the magic formula for winning over your people and creating a team of devoted followers is to give them an inspiring purpose that motivates the crap out them…and regularly look for ways to acknowledge their contributions when they drive towards it.

That’s the ticket.

For example, if you are leading an HR team that’s just wrapped up a record year of recruiting new talent, don’t quickly move on to the next challenge.  Instead, take some time to bask in your victory.  Share the credit with your team and give your folks a chance to experience and taste the success.

Take everyone out to lunch.
Let everyone laugh.
Let everyone enjoy the thank you’s.
Be proud, step back and let everyone walk around with the trophy.
Make sure your boss and your boss’ boss take time to stop by and recognize them individually.

Do this every time you can on major team accomplishments.  This is pure GOLD!

As an aspiring super successful HR leader, your greatest satisfaction should come from seeing the people in your team, department or company succeed.

Everything doesn’t revolve around you.
Be enthusiastic for your team.
Regularly acknowledge their exceptional work.

If you’ve NOT done all this this year, that okay.

Put it behind you.  But make it an important priority for 2018.

Regret #5:
Not growing your network. 

Don’t worry, your network was just as busy as you were this past year.

The solution is to focus on being more consistent.

Thanks to LinkedIn, you can network for 5-10 minutes each day.  Just like brushing your teeth, if you make online networking part of your daily routine, you’ll find it easier to keep up.

However, if you want to build a real network, it requires doing more.

For example, if someone you want to build a relationship with mentions they’ve had a rough time sourcing finance candidates, you might offer to send them the latest white paper on finance recruitment you’ve just come across. Or you might introduce them to a person you know who has a massive number of contacts in finance.  These are all great ways to offer your help and assistance – and deepen your network of advocates and supporters.

However, don’t be disappointed if your generosity is not returned immediately.  That’s okay.  Often, the “good karma” you’ve generated almost always yields benefits down the road – from places and people you might not expect.

That’s the way to build successful and lasting relationships in the new year.

In fact…

You can build more and better relationships in TWO MONTHS by becoming interested in other people than you can in TWO YEARS by trying to get people interested in you.

Are you game?

Regret #6:
Not taking care of your body.


Recently, I re-learned this lesson when I started going to the gym again. Even though I knew better, I had gotten woefully out of shape.  I had become overwhelmed by my HR work schedule and convinced myself that I didn’t have time to fit in a daily workout.

What does this have to do with your HR career? In a word, everything!  Listen…

Physical exercise, of any kind whatsoever, followed by relaxation, will clear your mind and dramatically improve your personal energy and productivity.

It’s a fact.  You are attaching an anchor to your career if you don’t take care of your health.

Abusing your body by smoking, excessive drinking, compulsive eating, sitting for too long—all add up over time.  And they are as bad for your career as neglecting to build your HR competencies and experience.

I know this is a blinding flash of the obvious.  Unfortunately, for others of us in HR, we treat exercise like it’s a choice.

It’s not.

It is now an essential part of building a successful career in HR.

Jogging. Tennis. Biking. Lifting weights. Tread milling. Doing Pilates.

It’s proven. Regular exercise changes your life and makes you more successful.

And frankly, it will also allow you attract more eyeballs at the beach and fit into your skinny jeans.  And that’s not such a bad thing either.

So in the new year, get up earlier…turn off the tube…power off your little handheld text machine.  Relax, not forever.  But just for 30 to 60 minutes each day.  And sweat.  Regularly.  Without fail.

Because it’s worth it.

Finally, let’s wrap up with a big one…

Regret #7:
Neglecting your family.

When my son unexpectedly passed away in 2006, my family was there to help me get through the most emotionally painful ordeal I’ve ever experienced.

My family has also been there on those frequent occasions in the past when I got passed over for HR promotions…or got yelled at by my boss…or made stupid mistakes on the job.  My family (and extended family) weren’t there to provide career advice – but to hear me vent and provide emotional support — which was and is just as important.

There’s a theme here.

Your family and people you love play an important role in your success in HR.  Spending time away from them is the price we pay for the long grueling hours trying to get ahead in our careers.  Sadly, I know very few people in HR that get this balance right.  And I include myself in that group.

Join me in committing to do better in the coming year.

It’s not too late to contract with yourself to spend more quality alone time with them.  Be more available.  Listen to and support them more individually.  Schedule more social and fun events to enjoy them more.  Make it a priority. Put it on your calendar.   You don’t want to look back this time next year and say you took them for granted.

If this doesn’t seem pressing to you now, know that it will be one day when they’re gone and you realize you didn’t show them how much you loved and cherished them.

So go ahead start planning to do more of this now…before the year ends.

Again, it’s not too late.

Here’s the bottom line…

This year will soon be history.

If you have any regrets about your job, your network, your boss, your clients or your family…learn from them and move on.

There’s no bigger waste of your time than doing the same thing over and over every year waiting for something exciting to happen.

Nothing fantastic will happen if you don’t take action to get out there and make it happen.

So make this coming year about success, enjoying the key people in your life…and NO regrets.

To do that, it’s time to bury 2017.

And resolve to make 2018 your best year yet.

Onward!

Feel free to add your comments and thoughts below by clicking HERE.

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Want more ideas for having a “no-regrets 2018,” then check out:

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For more detailed information about this book, go HERE.

OR

If you are an aspiring HR leader or anticipate moving into a new HR leadership role in 2018 leading an HR team, check out.

THE NEW HR LEADER’S FIRST 100 DAYS:  How To Start Strong, Hit The Ground Running & ACHIEVE SUCCESS FASTER As A New Human Resources Manager, Director or VP.

For more information about this book, go HERE.

About the author: Alan Collins is Founder of Success in HR, Inc. and the author of a variety of best selling books for HR professionals including WINNING BIG IN HR. and THE NEW HR LEADER’S FIRST 100 DAYS.  He was formerly Vice President – Human Resources at PepsiCo where he led HR initiatives for their Quaker Oats, Gatorade and Tropicana businesses.

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6 Responses to “7 HR Career Regrets You Must Bury Before 2017 Ends….”

  1. Lisa Says:

    “Start giving your business leaders 20% more than they expect. Consistently.”
    I totally get this and try to do so consistently. However, I find that the business leaders then consider my 120% my norm and then tend to expect more. How does one overcome this? There is only so much one person can do.

  2. Alan Says:

    Hi Lisa, if your business leader is taking your over-delivery for granted and expects even more…you’re right there is only so much one person can do…only so many hours in a day.

    Here’s my brutally candid take on this situation: rather than waste your precious time and mojo wondering why your boss doesn’t appreciate that you’re busting your butt to over-deliver, why not start channeling some of this energy into planning your next move.

    You can do this by updating your LinkedIn profile to showcase how you’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty, rewriting your resume to capture your “exceeds expectations” achievements, dialing up your networking inside and outside of your organization and beginning to explore opportunities outside your current organization.

    You could also look at opportunities in other departments, groups and divisions within in your current organization also.

    When your energy shifts away from pleasing this business leader, you’ll still be doing your job but you’ll have a new part-time job called “Taking My Next Step,” as well.

    And this is the gutsy key in all this…let this business leader know directly (or indirectly) that you’re doing all this!

    A funny thing happens when you shift your attention away from working your tail off to keep your boss happy and start focusing on your own career path.

    Many business leaders will notice this shift in your energy (even if you don’t say anything), and perhaps even in your results, even if they can’t put their finger on what has changed.

    When they notice that your energy has changed direction, they may respond by suddenly becoming aware of your value to them and perhaps offering more praise and recognition…or start appreciating you more…or even realigning their expectations to 120% to 110%…to even 100%.

    Having said all this, I can’t guarantee that this dawning of awareness will be enough to keep you on their team or in their good graces? Maybe it will. Maybe it won’t. That depends what other opportunities you’ve turned up in the meantime!

    But bottom line: Don’t wait around hoping your situation gets better…take action!! There are plenty of business leaders who will honor and recognize your contributions to the team — without expect 120% constantly. Why not start finding them by starting that “Take My Next Move” project today.

    Wish you much success!

  3. Paco Says:

    I always enjoy your posts, your pragmatic approach and direct style. Thanks for your provocative reflections and have a great 2018

  4. Lennon Craig Says:

    Very good post with great information to lead me into 2018. Thanks Allan for the update.

  5. Jayne Says:

    Alan,
    It’s been awhile. I’m glad that I read your article just when I thought that I have had it. It has given me a fresh burst of HR energy. Very poignant article! Bury the regrets, recreate oneself and tackle the new year! Thanks for sharing. Season’s greetings!

  6. Big D Says:

    Another fantastic article by Alan. i wish that I had access to someone like Alan early in my career.

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