#MyHRDiary: Stakeholder Management Experience
Welcome to another episode of #MyHRDiary, a diary series in the life of an HR Professional.
Last diary episode, I wrote about my experience in a tech firm after clocking one year. I specifically warned my colleagues not to read but some still read it lol. So I’ll keep diarizing my journey in a bid for other HR Professionals to either relate or learn one thing or the other to help their journey. After all, my mission is to help career Professionals achieve measurable career growth and writing a diary is just one way I have been achieving it (At least that’s what secret admirers of my blog have been saying lol)
This episode, I’ll be writing about stakeholder management from my own experience and ‘perspective’ in the same tech firm. This is an underestimated aspect of career that most people don’t manage well and end up getting their fingers burnt
Being able to succeed as an HR in a small firm has required me to understand my stakeholders and manage them both Professionally and with ‘wisdom’. Yes oo WISDOM. Wisdom is the right application of knowledge, it’s not enough to have the knowledge of stakeholder management but are you applying it in the right ways ?
So who are stakeholders ? In my own simple terms and without checking Google, they are people directly or indirectly affected by your work and have a form of influence in your work/job/Career. Most HR Professionals feel a stakeholder has to be their boss or someone ‘big’ and mighty so they end up loosing focus on the primary reason why they were employed in the first place. One common phrase I tell my colleagues is that “Without you here, I won’t be hired”. I’m here as an HR Lead to serve you and ensure you are fine. As much as I consider my bosses a great stakeholder, my people are also my biggest stakeholders.
Every HR Professional should ensure that they have the ‘people’ in mind in every policy, decision or advice you want to make as much as you should also have the business in mind. So how have I been able to manage my stakeholders (Remember this is my diary and not an article so I’ll be talking from my personal perspective)
- Identify your stakeholders and put them in groups
The way you relate with people across all levels differs a lot and should be a well thought out process. My stakeholders are my boss, the directors, the team leads and my colleagues in the office
- Be strategic on how you relate with each group
Starting from the top, I have the directors. I’ve met only one of them physically once but due to the nature of my role, I interact with them a lot. These are one of the highest stakeholders so I really needed to be extra careful in the emails I send to them (Most times I thank God for the email etiquette training I learned in the beginning of my career in Consulting). Not to digress a bit but starting your HR Career in a good consulting firm gives you an edge especially when relating with C-Level Executives. I would re-read my email 10 times and sometimes show my colleague to re-read it again before I go and fall my hand in front of directors that have never met me lol (you can never be too careful)
Then my direct boss (the CEO), I used the first 3months to understudy and observe him as well as everyone. Whilst trying to do so much and meet hiring timelines, I also needed to observe his leadership style, how he prefers to be communicated to and how he prefers tasks to be executed. No matter how much you know, you just need to be open to learning if you find yourself in a new place with new people. I ditched what I thought I knew about my former boss and was just observing.
Team Leads are people that can enable your role or frustrate it entirely. Most of HR’s work is to be carried out by the team leads so I had to ensure I communicated properly and didn’t position myself as one demi-god that knows it all. They would teach you other aspects of the business which you would be able to contribute to as a business partner.
Then the wonderful colleagues. Hmnnn, these are the greatest assets to the business so finding out what they would love to see in their HR Lead was one of my first tasks. They were quite pleased that it mattered to me. It’s not every advice I hear that I take oo but I needed to hear some things to know what/what not to do. Within the first 5months, I needed to make lots of changes and if it wasn’t in the right direction and I didn’t get their buy-in, I would end up frustrated and gladly I wasn’t frustrated.
- Keep building relationships
Part of relationship building is knowing when to draw the line. The HR’s role is very sensitive. You need to be friends with people but not too close. Respect is earned and not by your supposed ‘title’. I’ve had to send queries to people I smile with all the time and I do it unapologetically because my relationship is purely professional and there is nothing personal with the query I’m sending to you. Whilst trying to draw the line, you also need to genuinely care about the people and want to build a meaningful relationship with them. Smiling a lot and being approachable as an HR is one of the first step. If you’re perceived as ‘proud’, you would never build a meaningful relationship.
- Last but not the least, don’t forget to be professional
Professionalism is one word that keeps getting abused in various industries because some people don’t understand what it means and how to apply it. Being professional involves being reliable, respectful and most importantly COMPETENT. If you are incompetent, people would see through it and you would automatically loose out. How do you address problems? How emotionally intelligent and tactful are you ? Lots of questions to ask if you would be acting as a professional internally. I learned professionalism from some of my mentors (No I wasn’t born with it lol). I desired it and observed people who displayed professionalism and modelled my behavior accordingly and it has helped me a lot.
Thanks once again for taking out time to read through this episode. Next month would be more juicy, I would have told you the topic but it’s a secret! Subscribe to my newsletter if you don’t want to miss out on other juicy diary series.