4 Simple Little Rules For Building Your Credibility and Reputation in HR…

By Alan Collins

Would you like to lose weight?

Okay, hereʼs how you do it:

Eat less.
Exercise more.

Thatʼs it.

Thatʼs all there is to it.

No need to make it any more complicated than that.

You don’t have to buy twenty diet books.

Just eat less and exercise more.

You don’t have to spend $200 for a set of exercise videos you saw on a late night infomercial.

Just eat less and exercise more.

You don’t have to do exhaustive research on the foods you should be eating…and waste time analyzing the ratios of fat and protein and carbohydrates in them.

Again, just eat less and exercise more.

We all often make things more complicated than they need to be.

But it’s not necessary, because…

Success in any endeavor boils down to following
a few simple rules.  And then EXECUTING them like crazy.
Every single freakin’ day.  Consistently.

The same is true for building your credibility in HR.

I used to give a presentation at the very end of a two-day orientation for our new hires in Human Resources at Quaker Oats.

Before I arrived, there were 36 things that we’d tell them they needed to do in order to be successful in their new roles.

That’s right 36 things!

They included things like how to interview job candidates, coach, hold career discussions, do appraisals and the like.

No one would dispute that these things were important.

But there was no way they were going to remember everything that had been crammed into their noggins, non-stop over the past two days.

Their brains were fried.  Their cups runneth over.

And they were anxious to get the heck out of there.

So I would wrap up by just summarizing the four most important SIMPLE, UNCOMPLICATED little things that were crucial building their most important asset in HR…their credibility and reputation. 

If they remembered nothing else, these were the key takeaways from our meeting.

I called them the 4C’s.

And here’s how I described them…

“The first is COMPETENCE.”

This is the foundation of your credibility.

Without it you are a lightweight.  An empty suit.  A phony.  And you won’t be taken seriously.

It requires a relentless focus on becoming the absolute best in your HR job — whether you’re an HR generalist working at headquarters, an HR manager in the field or a specialist in organization development, compensation or labor relations.

It requires that you continually reach for the HIGHER STANDARD and learn as much as you can about your clients, your organization and your specific specialty with HR.

It means focusing on the job you have first, not on the job you want.

And then committing to grow your skills to become the “go-to person” for what you do.

That’s number one…

“The second is CONFIDENCE.”

Confidence is what you should aim to bring to every HR situation you face.

It’s important to get your client’s ideas on people issues or ask questions to gather data in an employee investigation.  These are important HR competencies.

Use them.

But recognize that your clients want to know what YOU think.

Leadership and credibility is about  HAVING YOUR OWN POINT OF VIEW and sharing it.

So you have to have to be brave enough, and confident enough in yourself to regularly and unabashedly put your own ideas and perspectives on the table in tough situations.   Whether they are asked for or not.

“The third is CARING.”

No ONE person can accomplish great things in large, complex organizations by themselves.

Success in HR requires collaboration.

You cannot be a solo player and succeed.

You’re not playing golf here.

It’s more like football or basketball.  It’s a team sport which requires working together to succeed.

You can’t fake caring.

You’ve got to GIVE A DAMN ABOUT PEOPLE and partner with your clients and your colleagues and recognize that it’s the people around you who will ultimately make you look good in your HR role.

“And the fourth is your CONNECTIONS.”

Expanding your relationships is the basis for producing results beyond yourself.

Strong connections and relationships expand your ability to get things done and allow you to produce things that you can’t in isolation.

They give meaning to your life and provide you with a platform for delivering extraordinary results in the future.


I’ve never forgotten that lesson.

There you have it…

My four simple rules for building your HR credibility and reputation.

They are simple and uncomplicated.

And, as such, they don’t cover every single thing on the planet for building your credibility in HR.

They’re not intended to.

It’s merely intended to get you off your duff by providing some simple, EASY-TO-REMEMBER guidelines that will enable you to make a quantum leap in your effectiveness as an HR pro.

Again, like the simple rules for losing weight.

And just like shedding pounds…

The real hard work is in the DOING
….not in the rules themselves.

So puh-lease, don’t make this more complicated or complain this this is entirely too simplistic.


1.  Adopt and internalize these 4C’s. Make them yours.

2.  Live these 4C’s.  Develop a plan for putting them into action ….every single day. Consistently.

3.  Steal these 4C’s and share them with your colleagues and others.

That’s all it takes.


Now go get started.


Click HERE To add your comments and insights on this article.


About the author: Alan Collins is Founder of Success in HR, Inc. and the author of the two HR best sellersUnwritten HR Rules and Best Kept HR Secrets.  His most recent book, HR Resume Secrets, is now available on Amazon.  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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28 Responses to “4 Simple Little Rules For Building Your Credibility and Reputation in HR…”

  1. Sharlonda Says:

    Thank you for these great newsletters…I look forward to receiving them and adding these valuable nuggets to my HR toolkit.

  2. Shenykia Jefferson Says:

    Simple, easy to remember and actionable. THANK YOU.

  3. Beth Kajuju Says:

    Fantastic! simple to remember and easy to understand. Agrreably, the hard part is on execution – but doable. lets do it buddies!! we can.

  4. Kim Says:

    Excellent, to the point advice. Would you coach me?! Alan, have you thought of pulling all your blogs into one book? I have a lot of them saved and thought of printing them all off, sitting by the waterfront and just read them. Excellent material. Thank you for sharing your passion with the world

  5. Alan Says:

    Kim, great suggestion – I will at some point gather these articles into another book. I did that a few months ago in my book “Winning Big in HR.” It features some of my most popular articles of the last few years that were first published on this blog, but now only available in the book.

    Because of my overwhelmingly packed schedule, my “coaching” these days is limited to advice provided on this blog, my books and presentations. I’ve found that I can impact more people through these avenues. Thanks for the question.


  6. Jayne Says:

    The more I read your articles, the more inspired I become to seriously do consulting in HR. Thanks as usual for your candid and very simple tips. Life does not have to be complicated, I agree!

  7. Alan Says:

    Jayne – go for it!

  8. Hani Omara Says:

    It is Great Alan.

  9. Phylli Chen Says:

    Alan, very nice article as always. Remind me what I need to do (including keep fit!)

  10. Arya Nair Says:

    Hey Allan, I wish all my days starts with reading your articles. You are such an inspiration!

  11. Eunice Nzilani Says:

    Great insights Allan.

  12. Krupali Says:

    Thanks Alan!!
    I look forward to your articles. Thanks for the pointers you share time and again. They are very very crisp, practical and easy to execute.


  13. Wendy W. Says:

    Thank you Alan. I so agree with you. Simple but so vital in our profession. Look forward to more articles!

  14. Seto Says:

    On point as usual and I agree with what’s already been said.

    I appreciate your “real world” approach to HR and following your model has helped me succeed beyond what I could’ve expected in HR.

    I look forward to your articles…

    Many many thanks,


  15. Linda Barberena Says:

    You and I would work well together–I strongly believe in the KISS method, and it seems that you do too! As always, thanks for the insightful article.

  16. Jay Rombach Says:

    Very good information Alan…simple, powerful and valuable. Thank you! @jay_rombach

  17. Glynis Says:

    Love the 4C’s, Alan! I can personally attest to the fact that utilizing the 4C’s will positively increase your credibility and reputation. These four simple tools are powerful!

  18. samarjit Says:

    Dear Alan ,

    Like others I too am fascinated by your 4 C’S. Your other published advices to HR professionals are note worthy . As Kim has already brought out , do publish another book based on your shadings . I have gone through a number of articles on HR by eminent writers but remain slightly worried as most of the writers go about stating what to do but leave the question as to what should be recommended methodology to achieve what one desires to be . I hope you will give a thought to it . Thanks for sharing your knowledge .

  19. Kathleen Says:

    Invaluable information, practice and doable. Now I am motived to get your books. Thank you Allan, for this powerhouse of information.

  20. Thornton Jenness Says:

    Alan, I think there should be a 5th “C” …. Context! Too often, the HR professional does not fully appreciate (or understand enough about) the business they are there to support. Most front-line managers who I worked with were more interested in seeking my help and service as a Senior HR Generalist when they realized I understood their business. “Context”

  21. nwe yin mon Says:

    Thank you for great sharing.

  22. Petr Bucman Says:

    I fully agree with Thornton Jennes. According to my experience HR needs to “speak the same language” with business managers. Once they got to know you understand (and want to understand) their business challenges they take you as their partner whom they can trust and ask for help. Your credibility raises up significantly then.

  23. Jackie Swift Says:

    Well said, too often we try to complicate our lives with all the added details. I like that fact that these four simple rules encompasses our every day functions as an Hr person. Thanks for the insight.

  24. wilbroad Katema Says:

    Just perfect, a good piece of work. easy to actionalize!

  25. Leo Storey Says:

    Alan: Good simple words of wisdom, however one other thing that I believe is truly key in building HR credibility is to always act ethically and with integrity

  26. Edith Says:

    This is just a refreshing insight for me. Many thanks for sharing this. Rest assured I will apply all 4C’s in my career once I get started with work in the HR profession. If there are any leads for a fresh MBA graduate in the calgary aThis is just a refreshing insight for me. Many thanks for sharing this. Rest assured I will apply all 4C’s in my career once I get started with work in the HR profession. If there are any leads for a fresh MBA graduate in the calgary area, I love to be contacted. Many thanks again.

  27. Edith Says:

    This is just a refreshing insight for me. Many thanks for sharing this. Rest assured I will apply all 4C’s in my career once I get started with work in the HR profession. If there are any leads for a fresh MBA graduate in the calgary area, I love to be contacted. Many thanks again.

  28. Chickie Says:

    Great read Alan as always. As a long time HR professional, sometimes it is difficult to get a seat at the table so to speak. These 4 C’s just might do this with my current employer. I look forward to reading your articles as they help me to reach for the stars! Thank you Alan.