HR Lessons Learned Over 40 Years

Tim Sackett HR, Tim Sackett

So, yeah – I hit the big 4 0 here recently, and if you missed my roasting by the HR Capitalist yesterday, have a read here. And while everyone told me it would be a big deal, the only thing I really got out of it was this feeling that it’s Halftime. The first half was pretty good, had a few turnovers, definitely hit some nice shots, never got a chance to dunk (at least on a real sized hoop!), felt like I shared the rock enough, not many steals (I play it safe on D, try to stay between the basket and the ball), love my team, uniforms looked great, got a little banged up under the boards trying to rebound with the big boys, didn’t see eye-to-eye with the coach always – but hey – it’s halftime and I’m going into the locker room with a lead.

How’s that for a mid-life, basketball metaphor!

40th-birthday-gift-t-shirt-experience-400 And I think in 40 years I’ve learned a ton about a lot of things, not enough about most things and a little about a few things that really matter.  HR, like life, has taught me more than my fair share, so here’s some nuggets from my first 40 years:

  • Don’t take chances on candidates – they rarely work out, as compared to those who do.
  • No process can make up for lack of talent – but a bad process can’t make talented people look bad.
  • HR does nothing. Your people in operations do something – HR needs to find ways to help those people do it easier, faster and more efficiently.
    •  Sometimes that means HR empties the trash, plans the parties and takes notes at big meetings – it doesn’t de-value you – it helps them.
  • Don’t expect your race horses to be plow horses – you didn’t hire them to plow.
  • Many times there aren’t second chances – that’s life. Buy a helmet.
  • Applicant Tracking Systems – whether you paid $1000 or $1M – won’t change your life – picking up the phone and calling candidates – will change your life.
  • Everyone has a price. Period. It’s your job in recruiting to find out what that price is – then weigh the ROI to your organization.
  • The most polarizing issue any HR Department/Executive will face in an organization is the “Dress Code”  – so don’t do it. Make operations come up with a dress code that your stakeholders can live with.
  • Stop asking for a seat at the table – sit down – give an opinion – or get the hell out of the room – we have work to do.
  • As an HR Pro (recruiting, T&D, ER, Diversity, etc.) your two best friends in any organization are your peer-level colleagues in marketing and IT.  Any HR project worth anything to an organization will need the help of these two groups – go make friends!
  • Culture always wins. Good or bad.

So, I’ve got some second half adjustments to make, the game keeps changing, but in the end, I will probably stick with what got me here – score more than the other guy – the best offense is a good defense me shooting a lot (or you have to shoot to get hot, then shoot when you’re hot) and basically keep outworking the competition.