Let’s talk business and value for a few minutes. This is something that’s been bothering me for months, so I think it’s time to write about it.
My recruiting practice is focused on HR Search. That’s to say, I recruit talented HR pros for companies around the country. Working with professionals in this realm has been an amazing experience. They are usually people-people, they are very bright, they have a clear career path and, most importantly, they have a lot of passion for what they do. Unfortunately, well over 80% of them fail to put metrics behind their performance. I often encounter amazingly talented individuals who have never tracked or quantified their impact on their current and past employers. To add insult to injury, many candidates simply accept the idea that HR represents a cost-center. This in itself presents a huge problem in how future employers (especially in a down economy) will evaluate your impact on the company. Well, it’s time to step back, reorganize your thoughts and re-engineer your candidacy.
Yes, you do represent a cost to the company. Yes, you will get involved with tasks that fall outside of the commonly considered “producer” categories. HOWEVER, you are not an unnecessary investment for an organization and you need to change your thinking about how you impact the organization! Let me give you two brief examples from candidates that I’ve worked with:
- Director of Talent Acquisition – Implemented a global retention and internal branding campaign that lowered professional turnover by 5% and executive turnover by 12%… in one year! How much money would that save your organization? In this candidate’s case, it more than paid for her salary and added compensation. In fact, I would argue that she suddenly became a profit-center!
- Director of Compensation & Benefits – Saved her mid-sized organization over $500,000 in one year by renegotiating contracts and realigning wasteful compensation strategies. Impact… oh yeah!
As I see it, if a sales professional sells a $100k widget with a total profit margin of 5%, she/he just earned the company $5k. Simple math, I know, but I’m working on a point here. If an HR professional renegotiates a benefits agreement with a vendor, in turn reducing costs by $5k, she/he just did the same. This same scenario could apply to retention improvement, more effective recruiting processes, compensation strategies, mitigating legal risk, and the list goes on. So, why is it that HR professionals commonly describe themselves in terms of duties, while the sales professionals go for the financial impact? Self perception? Culture? Ego? I’m not entirely sure.
So, here is my challenge to you HR pros that are looking to raise the bar. Start tracking your performance in terms of dollars and percentages. Did you help the company avoid a lawsuit by keeping excellent records? Document it! Did you reduce turnover in a department by implementing an employee satisfaction program? Take that reduction and multiply it by how much it costs the company every time they have to rehire and train a new employee. What have you done that has impacted the bottom line for the organization?
If you haven’t started doing this already, you need to… and here is why.
Think about the next time you are up for promotion. Think about the next time you are on the job market interviewing with your next prospective boss. Think about how your company considers your contributions to the bottom line when budgets get tight. You will feel a whole lot more prepared if you are able to articulate the financial impact that you make? In a competition to get a new job, who do you think the hiring manager is going to take seriously – the person with or without metric performance indicators to back up their claims of greatness? Just think about it.
While I’m specifically focusing on the HR professionals of the world, this message applies to many professions. For anyone who is currently in the job market, I challenge you to go back and revise your resume to include the impact that you had on the bottom line. In challenging times, people hire performers. Are you a performer? Can you back it up with numbers?
What are your thoughts? If you were the business owner, would you hire the person that could articulate performance in terms of dollars and economic impact or the person that couldn’t?