6 Ways To Become an HR Superhero in Your Organization — No Matter How Much (Or Little) Experience You Have!

by Alan Collins

A few nights ago, I saw Black Widow on HBO Max.

I loved it!

It had great action sequences, a cool story and heart. Scarlett Johansoon was terrific in the starring role.

I highly recommend it.

I’m a big superhero fan and movie buff.  As a kid I collected comic books and fantasized having powers like Spider-Man.

Growing up, I wouldn’t be surprised if you had your own super-powered role model as well.

And, maybe you still do.

If so, envision this: Imagine being an HR superhero in your organization.

If you’ve gained a reputation with your clients as someone who is awesome at what you do in HR, it’s just like being your favorite superhero — gifted with super powers.

When you’ve reached this level:

It doesn’t matter how much HR experience you have.

It doesn’t matter what college you went to.

It doesn’t matter what degrees you have.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re HR certified or not.

No one gives a crap about that stuff.

Instead, they are spellbound by your powers and your awesomeness. 

You face fewer obstacles in getting things done.

And no one forgets the experience of working with this type of HR pro.

So, how do YOU reach this level of awesomeness?

Here’s how.

 *   *   *

#1:
Stop making excuses and start
taking responsibility.
_____

No one wants to hear why you couldn’t do something.

So make a conscious decision right here, right now to stop awfulizing and giving excuses.

Instead, grab responsibility by the throat, wrestle it to the ground and own the results.

That’s what REAL superheroes like Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman do.

You should as well.

That means when something goes wrong (and it usually does), you should own that too.

Don’t blame the CEO.
Don’t blame your boss.
Don’t blame your clients.
Don’t blame your team members.
Don’t blame “the culture.”

If you aren’t comfortable with this mindset, it will be hard for you to build an HR reputation for being a superhero.

“Average” HR people quickly make up excuses and point fingers at other people or situations when things don’t go as planned.

They’ll criticize the “design” of the brand new performance appraisal program rather than work with their clients to customize it to make it work.

They’ll blame the high turnover in their client groups on the lack of an organization-wide onboarding program, rather than take steps to create one themselves.

Remember, no statue was ever erected to honor a critic or a super-villian.

You can’t be a superhero if you prefer spending your time on sidelines booing those on the playing field, rather than trying to make a difference yourself.

*   *   *

#2:
Take charge and lead when
no one else will.
_____

Superheroes don’t wait for others to step up. They do.

Here’s a simple everyday example. From time to time you’ll arrive at a meeting where it’s not clear who is in charge. It could be a meeting to launch a new HR initiative which includes your peers.

In these situations, here are the steps superheroes follow:

Step 1: Assess the situation to determine the leadership skills of the other attendees. Remember that your goal is to get things done.

Step 2: Take initiative without taking control. Be helpful, ask questions, and offer to accept tasks on behalf of the group.

Step 3. At the end of the meeting, provide a quick recap based on the actions the group agreed to. “OK, so Susan will contact the Legal Department, I’ll do the research and contact Finance…” and so on.

Step 4. If no one else is openly taking notes, do it yourself. Write them up and email them out to the participants within 24 hours of the meeting to “ensure we’re all on the same page.”

A Note on Notes: being the recorder accomplishes two things. 1) You are viewed as a superhero for taking the initiative and capturing information for everyone else, and 2) You get to put your own spin on how the notes are written.

You can apply this mentality to bigger meetings as well if there isn’t a project manager or meeting leader to do this for you.

To be an HR superhero, don’t step back — step up and take charge.

*   *   *

#3:
Get help from others.
_____

It’s no secret that superheroes team up with others.

They recognize to fight big battles or to accomplish great things, they cannot do it alone.

The Avengers and the Justice League are examples of superheroes recognize that they must collaborate with each other to multiply their effectiveness. 

As you pursue your plans for complete and total superhero status in HR, you’ll should naturally reach out to others as well.

You’ll build relationships, learn from your other partners and increase your impact on your organization.

So don’t hesitate to partner with others when projects require super-powers beyond those you currently possess.

*   *   *

#4:
However, learn how to say no.
_____

One of the quickest ways to rise in HR is by saying yes.

Yes, I’ll take on this new project.

Yes, I’ll work through the weekend to get the employee engagement survey results analyzed for that big presentation.

Yes, I’ll tackle the compensation project that’s outside of my comfort zone.

But in doing this, don’t be a doormat for people to step on.

Superheroes are many things, but being a doormat is not one of them.   

If you truly say yes to everything, you’ll quickly burn yourself out, and then you won’t be producing your most creative or innovative work. The work that will truly separate you from the rest of the pack.

What’s more, you’ll over-commit yourself and disappoint your boss or team members when you can’t meet deadlines or complete all that you’ve said you’d do.

So instead of saying yes all the time, learn how to accurately estimate long a project will take and balance that against the other tasks currently on your plate.

Then, learn how to give polite but firm NO’s when necessary, a compromise or other options.

For example, if your manager requests that a time-consuming project to be done on an impossibly short deadline, you might say:

“Boss, getting you the talent review summaries for all 40 sales locations by Monday isn’t doable given the other priorities on my plate. But I CAN get it to you by Wednesday at noon, or by Tuesday morning if I can borrow a colleague to help me out.”

That’s what HR superheroes do.

*   *   *

#5:
Over-deliver in your
personal relationships.
_____

In any given work environment — including HR — almost everyone is focused on one goal: to make themselves look good.

Changing your focus towards making others look good, is what superheroes like Wonder Woman do. 

Give more than you get.

Buy thank-you cards and write 2-3 every day.  In the world of email and texts, almost no one does that these days.

Use your calendar to keep up with the birthdays of as many people as possible. Then separate yourself by writing real birthday notes or cards instead of leaning on e-mail.

Whenever a casual or business relationship is coming to a close (the training class ends, colleagues move to another project, etc.) write the person a quick email. “I enjoyed working with you… thanks for doing a nice job.”

When bad things happen to others, be quick to forgive the following: mistakes, weaknesses, shortcomings. (No one is exempt from these things, even superheroes.)

Radically shun people that waste your time. This is NOT being impolite – it is showing respect for the people you have committed to serve as a superhero.

*   *   *

#6:
Enlarge your vision of success.
_____

Superheroes build their reputations by doing big things like saving the world. 

As an HR pro, you don’t have to do anything close to that.

But, you can model their success by creating larger, more compelling goals.

Goals that stretch you out of your comfort zone.

How? Start by just taking what’s already working well in your HR career and exponentially add to it.

Grow your professional HR network by 300%.

Apply for positions two levels above your current role.

Identify five HR mentors instead of one.

The funny thing about big goals is that they often take less time to achieve than you expect.

And, even if you fall short (which you often will), you’ll learn faster and wind up far ahead of where you expected.

*   *   *

There you have it, six ways to become an HR superhero.

But watch out: it can be addicting.

It’s like regular exercise.

When you first start, it’s a struggle. But after 3-6 months of doing it consistently, you build up a natural addiction to it.

And you’ll feel bad when you’re not doing it.

The same is true with being a superhero: doing one thing once is scary.

Do it a few times, and you love it.

One final thing…

Don’t expect everyone to understand your drive towards becoming an HR superhero.

Some just won’t get it.

Ignore them and just stay the course.

Just like the Black Widow does as a superhero.

That’s all it takes.

Onward!

CLICK HERE to add your comments and additional suggestions on his article.

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Want to discover even more ways to become awesome in HR?  Then check out:  UNWRITTEN HR RULES: 21 Strategies For Attaining AWESOME Career Success in Human Resources.  Additional details can be found HERE.

About the author: Alan Collins is Founder of Success in HR and the author of a variety of best selling books for HR professionals  including UNWRITTEN HR RULES.   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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32 Responses to “6 Ways To Become an HR Superhero in Your Organization — No Matter How Much (Or Little) Experience You Have!”

  1. Nyemo Says:

    Many Thanks Alan, This is real helpful. For me I am still struggling in planning this makes me to do a lot of works in adhoc and in reactive way. I will appreciate your advice how do you plan your works/activities.

    Thanks.

  2. Bill Olson Says:

    Great ideas and I would add implementing great Talent Management Systems with 360 Reviews.
    Thanks again.

  3. Leah Says:

    Once again, you are so on-point Alan. Well put!

  4. Ahmed Kmail Says:

    Very practical and implementable 7 ways All that you need is to stretch beyond your comfort zone and keep moving forward.

  5. Grace McBeth Says:

    Thanks Alan, this an excellent and very timely as I need to move to the next level

  6. josephine iyasele Says:

    Many thanks Alan, this is really helpful and do appreciate.

    Thank you.

  7. Shumaila Hameed Says:

    These are awesome inputs. Really helpful.

  8. Catherine Says:

    Excellent article Allan.Thanks

  9. Michalis Kairinos Says:

    Straight-forward and helpful tips! Thank you for sharing your knowledge

  10. Nahid Islam Bithi Says:

    Simply aweosme, clear concept and easy to implement ! Thank you so much Allan

  11. Ahmed Rashid Says:

    Alan,
    This is an excellent article. Well put and you can never go wrong with the steps given. Thanks a lot

  12. Tawina Says:

    This is awesome indeed. So educative and informative. It just came at the right time. Thanks Alan

  13. Marie Says:

    Your articles are always ‘rich’ in knowledge and very practical. This can be useful guide in all work sectors to middle managers and senior mangers, not just for HR practitioners. I will definitely be using these guides. Thank you.

  14. Alan Says:

    Thanks Marie for the kind comments, glad you found this info helpful. Best, Alan.

  15. This is very good and has helped me to deal with my appraisal documents 2 thanks Says:

    I wish this was given to me 10 years ago. It has helped be a successful career person at my job. Thank you Allan

  16. Jesca Says:

    With this great knowledge I’m very sure to make it in life about my HR work in life.

  17. Emma Says:

    wow..thats a great one.
    Regards

  18. Festus Says:

    Very enlightening tips for Hr professionals struggling with getting recognition,relevance and identity.Thanks Allan

  19. Jean P. Says:

    Well done. Very informative article. I learn a lot from your articles.

  20. Susan Says:

    Excellent advice, as always. I plan on using the one’s I don’t have in place to make sure I am an awesome HR professional.

  21. Judy Says:

    Thanks much Alan,

    I will be sharing this tips. Hope you don’t mind.

    Cheers

  22. Olabiran, O. Says:

    As usual,a very informative write-up from Alan.I reckon it will make a good read for anyone who aspires to become awesome in his/her field.

  23. Muhammad Tahir Says:

    A very good one. Thank you for the insight.

  24. william Birech Says:

    Alan – Great work indeed.

  25. Muhammad Tahir Says:

    Correct! You’re absolutely on point.Thank you.

  26. Helder Figueiredo Says:

    Great article Alan, thanks for sharing with us all

  27. Joy A Says:

    Thanks Alan! Brilliant points

  28. Pooja Says:

    Thanks, Alan,
    Meaningful information, I will share it in my network.

  29. MADONNA H BENTZ Says:

    Alan – thanks as always. You always “hit the mark”. Sometimes I do feel like Super Woman – I’m continuing to “save the day” and help our company be successful. While I do not have a college degree or HR certificate, I have been involved in running/managing businesses most of my life beginning at age 16. So I understand the business perspective well and the HR part of my job is a complement to my other responspibilities. I love it when I’m informed by employees that I’m the best HR person they’ve ever worked with. I really consider myself a business partner and team closely with all CEO’s I’ve worked with. I will be happy when we can get COVID behind us though. Sorry for the long post. You can edit if you like 🙂

  30. Muhammad Tahir Says:

    Thank you Alan for this insight.

  31. Joe Koyon Says:

    You had me at the comic book references, Alan!

    But seriously, these are good tips. I’m particularly fond of number 2, which can be very useful when you are dealing with people outside of your HR team. When they see “the HR guy” jump up to take a risk, be vulnerable, admit they don’t have all the answers but demonstrate that moving forward is more important than all that, it can break down silos and gain an HR pro instant credibility.

    I would add to seek out the valuable tasks – not just what others won’t do, but what no one else can do quite like you.

  32. Alan Says:

    Joe, loved your feedback and adds. Glad you connected with the superhero references. You’re right #2 is a high impact tip worthy of superhero glory — and going beyond it as you indicated to seek out valuable tasks is a great point. Thanks for weighing in. Much appreciated. Be well.

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