We’ve been talking about a lot of important issues around Social Capital in HR over our last severals posts. One of the questions you asked as we began this discussion was: How do you get your HR team connected?” Since this is a topic I work with daily, I’ll share some thoughts I have on it.
The most important thing that needs to happen to get your HR team connected and investing in social capital is to make it a part of the job. For far too long, too many HR folks have spent their days sitting in their offices, waiting for the phone to ring with the next issue to handle. HR leaders need to very specifically set expectations for their teams about getting out and being around people both within and outside the company.
Here are some ways that HR leaders can get their teams connected:
- Be the example. As the leader, you have to visibly demonstrate that you are committed to building your own social capital. Your team will key off of what you do. If you aren’t walking the talk, the rest of these ideas are meaningless.
- Train the team on relationship skills. Have the team read and discuss “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Pair up new HR members with those who do this well so that they have a role model to learn from. Teach them how to use outlook to capture information about contacts and schedule follow ups.
- Establish requirements in their performance objectives related to internal and external networking. Goals can range from taking an internal contact to lunch once per month to attending other department meetings weekly. Relationships can’t happen unless people are out interacting with one another.
- Require each team member to find a project or effort to get involved in internally. There are always projects, committees, task forces, etc. taking place. These groups are powerful ways to gain connections to others in the company who you might not otherwise meet. Note: team members may need help finding and getting invited to join these depending on your organization.
- Expect your team members to be involved in local HR networking groups like SHRM, CEBS, etc. People get busy and unless you establish an expectation that they are attending these meetings, they won’t go. When they go, establish a goal that they come back to the office with at least 3 business cards from new people they met at the meeting.
- Require people to have an active LinkedIn profile and to grow it. Not only is LinkedIn a great networking tool for people, it’s a nice way for individuals to feel the progress of building their network of connections because they can see the numbers.
- Train your team on social media. By teaching your team what it is and how to use it, it makes jumping in a lot easier. If you, as the HR leader, facilitate the training and use examples of how you are using it, the team will follow.
- Give performance feedback on how connected each individual is and the efforts they are making towards getting connected. By involving this in formal performance feedback like performance appraisals, you will ensure that it’s viewed as important.
There are a lot more ways to do this, but these area few important places to start.
Great post on an important topic. In my mind, the foundation of social capital for HR is being able to "add value" which means knowing the business very well. If you can't do this – line managers won't even give you the chance to earn social capital.
This is a great point. Building personal business acumen and knowledge of the business is critical to improving the kinds of conversations that we have with our business partners.
Thanks for the comment.