Most of the HR professionals that I work with are very busy, they have busy days with long lists of tasks to accomplish, to which are added daily renewed emergencies. Does that sound familiar? In this context, we address the first file that lands on our desk without question and we dive into operations. But is it in this operational whirlwind that we fully bring our added value? Reflecting on our real contribution as a strategic HR professional will allow us to prioritize our activities, our files and give meaning to our actions.
What is a Unique Strategic Contribution (USC)?
USC is the contribution that only you can make and that is at your highest strategic level. It is a contribution that you make in order to stand out, thanks to your talent. It’s what makes a project turn to you rather than another member of your team.
How do you identify your USC as a strategic HR professional?
Even though we are high performers in operational files, our contribution is often greater and more strategic than we think. The full value of our interventions can be attracting and retaining the best talent, coaching, developing others, managing performance, managing change, etc. This is usually where we make the difference, where our USC is located.
What is my ultimate goal in my current role? Take a moment to answer this question. You will have a good lead to identify that full contribution that is unique to you.
A coachee I recently worked with, who works in human resources, realized that the greatest contribution she wanted to make to her organization was to create a collaborative and humane culture. So I suggested that she draw a circle and put this USC inside. Then she drew a circle around it, where she listed her tasks with average added value, and then a third circle that included the tasks with less value. She realized that she spent much more time in the third circle than in the first. She was actually spending very little time in her USC as a strategic HR professional. This is not surprising since everything in our business environment takes us outside of our USC. Being aware of this is a first step in refocusing our attention on what really matters.
A valuable tool to prioritize on a daily basis
Having clarity about our USC allows us to focus on the goals that matter to us rather than on our to-do list. The USC also tints the intention and focus with which we carry out our activities as we become inhabited by the strategic contribution we make to them.
The USC becomes a daily compass, a filter for prioritizing our activities, files and tasks. Rather than taking an email or a client request as an obvious emergency to deal with, we take a step back to validate that we are putting our energy into what makes a difference. And it is this sense of direction that will allow us to reprioritize our daily work schedule, to think about what is important, what is not important, what is urgent, what is non-urgent before we embark on the flow generated by our “to-do-list”.
This perspective allows us to take a step back, to bring more value to our interventions, to put our energies on the right things, to build relationships and to establish a climate of trust. This is how we make a strategic versus operational contribution and increase our impact with our internal clients, the managers we support and our employees.
Keeping the focus on our USC as a strategic HR professional
To keep the focus on our USC, in an environment where everything tries to keep us away from it, I suggest a 5-minute exercise to do daily (in your car or in the subway) before starting your day:
- What is my intention today?
- What will help me contribute to my USC?
- What are the two to three actions I can take in relation to my USC?
- How do my cases today contribute to my goals?
- What can I delegate or carry forward in my list of activities for the day?
By answering these questions about our Strategic HR Professional USC, we breathe new life into our day. And by the end of the week, chances are we’ll feel we’ve made a difference rather than being swept away in a whirlwind of check-off activities on our list.