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Masha Masha is a content developer at IceHrm. You can contact her at masha[at]

Redefining Success: HR Leadership Beyond 'Best Practices'

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There are more “best practices” in the human resources industry than in other industries. But they are counterproductive. Accepted or “standard” approaches, by definition, do not produce the best results, especially when it comes to finding, hiring and retaining the best employees.

Best practices are like fad diets. If you're an Atkins fan, Atkins is your hammer and the world is a carb-shaped nail. Companies, like dieters, have individual needs, goals and lifestyles. You don't need "off-the-shelf solutions." You need tailored solutions.

Su Joun, the former vice president of talent, inclusion and diversity at health insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA), advises new HR leaders to abandon generic "best practices" in favor of a tailored approach:
Below, she explains how HR managers should approach a new task to find out what their company needs.

Look beyond HR

According to Su, HR teams are often incredibly distant from their business units and departments. And that's exactly why they fail. It's only natural for talent leaders to think that the HR team they inherited already knows their company well. But that is not the case. Human resources people tend to only know the same 20 to 50 people in their company and assume that they therefore know everything.
Su admits that it's difficult to step back and get to know a company, especially in the first few months of a new job.

But as VP of Talent or any other HR leadership position, you have to be the person who meets more employees than anyone else. Otherwise, you won't be able to understand their needs or develop the right programs.

Listen to as many people as possible

"There's nothing better than talking to people and listening to them," says Su. She advises new HR managers to build relationships with all areas of their company. When it comes to relationships, there are no shortcuts. To begin, it's easiest to start with a sample. Meet with at least 3 people who work at different levels in each department:

  1. Meet the department heads
  2. Then you meet middle management people
  3. And then you meet a base employee.

See if they say similar things. Even with a sample size of three people, you can get a feel for how people work together. Go to team meetings to understand what some of the topics are. The more sessions you attend and the more people you meet, the better.

When Su first joined BCBSMA's HR team, she committed to meeting 300 new employees per year. When she left the company, she had met around 1,100 new employees.

When it comes to sparking change, it's easy to be the first person to express an idea. But it's hard to convince others to follow her. If you don't listen to people first, they probably won't follow you - even if you try to convince them by talking about "best practices."

Su Joun's insights remind us: listening and understanding pave the way for effective HR leadership. Customize your approach with IceHrm.

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