Understanding Modern Human Resources Management with Virginia Means

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Recently I co-interviewed Virginia Means on the blog talk radio show, The Art of Image on Understanding Modern Human Resources Management with Virginia Means and how image and brand of employees can affect the bottom line of an organization and what were the most five common mistakes HR Professionals make in their career development. I asked Virginia to do a re-cap in this blog.

Virginia H. Means is the HR Practice Leader with VCG Consultants in Atlanta, Georgia.

Thank you Virginia!


Common Mistake #1 – Most Human Resource Professionals think of themselves as an HR professional in a particular business. Instead – HR professionals need to start thinking of themselves as business professionals who practice in HR.

a.  The difference is that business professionals know how to read a balance sheet and understand their budget.

b.  They are aware of what’s going on in their respective industry – product development, people practices, expansion, and the like.

Potential Solutions:

1)  It is imperative that Human Resource Executives understand numbers because, typically, the most expensive line item on a company’s balance sheet is PEOPLE.

a.  Know the top line (revenue) and bottom line (profitability) of the organization.
b.  Know the company wide payroll costs, benefits costs, etc…
c.  If you don’t know how to read a balance sheet or don’t understand how to build a budget, ask a colleague in accounting or take a class.
d.  Ask for help so that you can become a well-rounded business professional. Asking for help is not a weakness, it’s a strength.

2)  You can learn more about what’s going on in your industry by:

a.  Signing up for press releases to be e-mailed to you for your own company, your competition, and industry (if possible)

b.  Thinking about the power of knowing that your biggest competitor just announced the rollout of a new product or service that may directly impact your business.  Let’s say that they developed a new product and are now hiring a huge sales force to take the market by storm. You would immediately take (or send) the information to your boss and brainstorm about what other stakeholders within the organization need to know.

i.  You’re bringing information to your boss (a/k/a making your boss smarter) which makes them look good.

ii.  In addition, suggesting that key stakeholders are aware and get involved so that they can come up with ideas to mitigate the situation can impact the business.

Leverage these kinds of opportunities and voila’ – you end up looking like a business professional.

Key take-away: Developments in business almost ALWAYS impact people – look for the linkages and communicate them.

Common Mistake #2 – Getting to “NO” before getting to “YES.”  Many HR professionals answer with “NO” before thinking through potential solutions.  This is a mistake.  Instead – focus on how to get to the right business answer.

Key take-away: NEVER COMPROMISE YOUR INTEGRITY OR THAT OF YOUR COMPANY, but be sure to open your mind and look at a number of options that can be formulated into solutions.

Common Mistake #3 – Neglecting to articulate the people link to the business strategy.  Most HR professionals don’t take the time to educate management and employees about how their work links to the overall strategy of the business. Instead – illustrate for managers and employees how the work they do aligns with the mission, vision, values, and goals of the organization.  This has potential to significantly impact employee engagement which leads to greater organizational pride and better individual performance.  Employee performance and company pride are two key drivers that impact customer service and, ultimately, organizational performance.

Key take-away:  Aligning people with the business strategy [down to the individual level] will likely impact employee engagement, customer service/satisfaction, and company financials (performance).

Common Mistake #4 – Not proactively asking for feedback about your performance.   Instead – HR professionals need to ask for feedback.  As your boss, ask your team.  Give your stakeholders the opportunity to provide feedback outside of performance reviews.

Key take-away:  Create transparency by asking for feedback.

Common Mistake #5 – Not planning for, establishing and being aware of your personal brand in the workplace.  The perception that others have of you in the workplace will have a tremendous impact on your ability to grow, develop, be placed on key projects, and, yet, even get promoted.  Instead – Put together a roadmap for where you want to go and how to get there.  It could be a critical success factor for your career.

Key take-away:  Credibility and business savvy are key to building your personal brand and will likely impact your career path.


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