Positively Impact Your Employer after Your PHR/SPHR Certification

By Sandra M. Reed

After you achieve your PHR or SPHR certification, you’ll want to bring that knowledge to work. Business as usual isn’t always the best policy, but wanting to change too much too fast can actually damage your credibility. Think carefully about what is book smart compared to changes that your employer or teammates can reasonably be expected to tolerate.

There will come a time however when you really must speak up and advocate for a change. How you do so will be the difference between being a hero or viewed as the office pariah. Ways to constructively offer feedback to your team or company include

  • Seek to understand. Asking the right questions about why a process is in place can help you understand the desired outcome.

  • Know the facts. After you understand what the company needs from a person or process, you can data gather. Strive to be the expert when it comes to the numbers and statistics to ensure that your idea is the best course of action. You must not only know your job, but also the industry and business functions that you support. Do things such as work the line, answer the phones, ship the widgets, work the night shift; in short, live the impact your suggestions may have on your people or processes.

  • Be flexible. After you comprehend the outcome and have all the facts, you may have to abandon your attempt, because it may not be the right option. You may also work with the management team on a buffet solution, where you take a little bit from here and a little bit from there and mash it all together. A commitment to a collaborative, flexible effort will help you gain trust.

  • Time it right. Timing has two issues that you must consider:

    • How you present your ideas: Trying to gain permission in the hallway while your boss is walking into a meeting isn’t the time to articulate your thoughts. You’re bound to shortchange your ideas.

    • When you present your ideas: Many business have seasons, so proper planning can help you and your management team work around these peak times of year. For example, the best time to introduce new point-of-service software in retail is not November or December.

  • Speak their language. HR people often have to be chameleons, blending into all organizational environments and departments. Know the priorities of the groups that you serve and speak to those needs before anything else. If the VP of HR needs business metrics, be sure to include a system to deliver in any proposed change.

  • Study change management techniques. Change management (the process of systematically coordinating and managing change in the workplace) is a well-researched topic. Become the change management guru at your organization, bringing others along with you. Most people fear change, and fear is a powerful deterrent to any behavior, no matter how well designed. Teaching your company to embrace the new can help them compete — a win for all who work there.

Know that your long-term impact may take time to materialize. It may even take a change of leadership or business strategy to launch your ideas. Having a consistent, flexible approach can help you gain trust and create a successful business partnership.