Charlene Weisler: How has the HR function evolved since you first entered the field?
Kim Heintz: The introduction of good HR technology has enabled us to focus more on talent and organizational effectiveness. No matter what business you are in, it is easy to fall back on the HR function for administrative support. There is a group within our organization that assists managers with that but that is not the HR Business Partner/Generalist's role. Technology has enabled us to differentiate ourselves from that function, manage more efficiently and focus more on the business's human capital priorities.
Charlene: What is your most important consideration in HR?
Kim: To connect with businesses and leaders in business, to understand and help drive the business agenda and everything that is going on around it. It is also important to be engaged in what is happening in the business cycle such as the roll-out of marketing or sales campaigns. There is a human component to everything we do in the business and, as HR Business Partners, we are poised and ready to add value whether it is compliance, change management, organizational design, recognition or any other part of employees' work life.
Charlene: Tell me your views on mentorship and employee development.
Kim: I have a couple of views on this. There is the thought that it is management's responsibility for employee development but I don't think of it that way. Development must start with the employee. Management can help guide a career path but you are responsible to yourself to seek opportunities and guidance. We will then help you, but the employee needs to own his or her career and take the first step. It is important that managers make the employee feel comfortable doing so.
In terms of mentorship, we need to seek out mentors both in and out of the company. My mentor is a former boss who is out of the media industry. I can reach out and call him when I need his advice. If you are seeking a mentor you need to put in the effort to find one. It is empowering when one looks at it as their responsibility. Most leaders are flattered when someone reaches out for their advice and find it gratifying when they see potential in someone. Both parties benefit by a mentoring relationship.
Charlene: How do you achieve work/life balance?
Kim: I am not always good at achieving work/life balance. I like what I do and get energy from it. But I realize it is also important to turn off and rebalance. I think it makes me a better employee and a more fulfilled person. I do my best to be present in whatever I do; meaning I don't constantly check my email after the normal workday but I do stay aware of what is happening. I ensure I get some exercise in everyday no matter what is going on and I spend quality time with my family and friends mostly on weekends -- but I schedule some time during the week to make sure I am de-compressing.
Charlene: What advice can you offer college graduates who are starting on their career path?
Kim: My best advice would be to not settle for any job that fits neatly into a paradigm you and your family have already laid out for you. Stay open to different experiences. Go to places that you don't expect to go. Live in a foreign country. Volunteer for the Peace Corps. Talk to people and seek those that are happy in their work and are in various fields. Open yourself up to a whole new realm of possibilities.
Charlene: Where do you see your field evolving five years from now?
Kim: That is an intriguing question. There has been a slow evolution in HR fundamentals. We provide advice and counsel for leaders to run the organization. We have seen progress and more tools in areas such as talent management and talent planning. These tools are smarter to take the rote-ness out of the process. Technology will help us to further evolve and help people realize their career goals. We have employees in all phases of the lifecycle, beyond Millennials. We should focus on all of our employees and their career paths.
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