It’s time for a check-up! How HR folks can get ready for 2015


January is the perfect time to think about how this year will be better than the last.

And why shouldn’t it be? Who doesn’t want more happiness, more money, less stress, and more career success? Truth be told, in this market wanting more might be the only way to maintain what you already have. Complacency doesn’t exactly work when the world moves as quickly as ours.

Because I’m a firm believer that HR pros have to be constantly seeking ways to both improve their businesses AND themselves, this post focuses on concrete tips for making 2015 the year you enhance your workspace and your career.

Tip #1. Make sure you’re keeping abreast of legal changes/trends. Seems like a no-brainer, but it can be hard to keep track of all the rules and regulations that affect your business, and it might be tempting to not even try. However, a good HR practitioner is in the know about these things.

If you haven’t already, find a few good HR blogs or websites you like and read them daily. I recommend something basic, like SHRM.com, workforce.com, or blr.com; one legal website by someone fun like Donna Ballman (Screw You Guys, I’m Going Home) or Eric Meyer (The Employer Handbook); and something from an HR pro with a strong and credible point of view like John Whitaker (HR Hardball) or Suzanne Lucas (Evil HR Lady). Honestly, there are hundreds of sources I could have named. The point is, you won’t know what’s happening if you don’t make it a priority to find out.

Tip #2. Conduct an HR audit. An audit of HR processes and procedures (e.g., compensation policies, recruitment procedures, onboarding procedures, and so on) will reveal gaps costing your business both time and money. Of course, your job isn’t done when you find the leaks; you’ll need to develop effective methods for plugging them, too.

Tip #3. Get to know your business better. Think about a specific action you could take that would give you greater insight into the business. Are there employees whose brains you could pick? (Offer to pay for lunch or coffee in return.) Is there a meeting you normally don’t attend that you could begin attending? What about an internal report you don’t normally read that you could begin reading? Go for it.

Tip #4. Schedule a meeting with your boss. Ironically, the annual performance review can be the worst time to talk with your manager about your career goals. So, if regular feedback isn’t a part of your relationship (and for most employees it isn’t), why not schedule an “off cycle” discussion with the boss touch to base on what’s important to you? What initiatives would you like to undertake? What assignments are you hoping to get? What skills would you like to develop? If you don’t ask you probably won’t get.

Tip #5. Broaden your horizons. In “Manage Your HR Career Like a Celebrity—Even If You’re Not Rich & Famous!,” Alan Collins suggests you make 2015 the year you get on the path to creating multiple streams of income. There are many opportunities for HR pros to do this, from writing a book to consulting on the side, but your activities don’t have to be limited to HR. Think about launching a hobby (mine is collecting antique and vintage jewelry) into more income as well.

HR’s reputation could maybe use some work, but there are many ways for a pro to distinguish him- or herself from the pack. What better time than the beginning of the new year to do it?

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