by Alan Collins
Before I tell you what the “A” factor is, let me share the true story of two HR leaders.
Their names: Colleen and Karen.
They are very much alike.
Both currently work for the same company, but in different divisions.
Both are brilliant.
Both have graduate degrees in HR. Both have SPHRcertifications. And both have roughly equivalent HR, leadership and business skills (at least in my view).
However, Colleen has struggled for seven years just to stay employed in HR. Even though she is extremely bright, she has progressed very little, if any, financially and career-wise during those years. She constantly looks over her shoulder fearing that the ax could fall on her job at any moment.Karen started in HR six years ago. She’s been promoted three times during this time and her career has grown by leaps and bounds. She’s now preparing to leave the “comfort” (probably the wrong word, but you know what I mean) of a large corporation to go off on her own as an independent HR consultant. And, I absolutely have no doubt she’ll be successful.
But back to person one, Colleen: When Italk to her, I hear lengthy whining about all the outside influences that have negatively affected her career in HR. The economy, corporate downsizings, bosses that won’t give her a fair shake, clients who disrespect her, and her list goes on and on and on. The same old tired excuses. It’s like hearing a bad Lady Gaga song playing over and over again.
By the way, she’s right! She’s notexaggerating. I worked in the division she’s in. The issues she talks about, unfortunately, still DO exist. In fact, I remember getting frustrated and pissed off by many of them myself. But the issue is NOT that she’s right. The issue is how much Colleen allows these issues to hold her back.
On the other hand, when I talk with Karen, it’s a totally different story.
Sure, these same challengescome up, but only occasionally. Instead, she talks excitedly about the innovative strategies she has discovered and developed to keep her career growing regardless of external influences. Whenever I see her, she aggressively quizzes me about any and all career strategies I’ve seen or discovered recently that might work for her. Recently, she read my article on “20 Kick-Ass HR Career Goals” andexcitedly identified four of them that she plans to put into action right away.
And therein lies the ONE single attribute that truly sets Karen apart from Colleen…and is a key for making stepping up your career in HR.
It’s not working harder.
It’s not being smarter.
It’s not being lucky.
And it’s not building more relationships (though there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that).
It’s thefact that….
“Unlike Colleen, Karen has the “A” factor working for her. By that, I mean that she takes ACTION. And she doesn’t allow her actions to be imprisoned by the need for PERFECTION.”
Let me explain further.
Unlike Karen, Colleen needs things to be darn near perfect before she gets going. In a recent conversation with her about her HR career, here’s some pieces of what she told me…* “I want to have everything completely thought out and written up BEFORE I pitch my boss on my great new HR idea.”
* “I need to take another year to learn more about labor relations BEFORE I go after that big HR promotion.”
* “I want to finish up my resume BEFORE I put myself on the job market and look for my HR dream job.”
* “I need to get all my HR career goals for this year mappedout on paper – complete with dates and milestones BEFORE I start doing any of them.”
* “I want to craft the perfect elevator pitch BEFORE I start networking.”
* “I’ve begun setting up my own blog. But I need it to look awesome BEFORE I launch it and reveal it to the world.”
* “I’ve thought leaving HR and becoming a headhunter. But I need to get my business cards, brochures and...