10 Things Every HR Professional Needs to Do to Succeed



“I’m a people person” and “I like helping others” are two common reasons HR professionals give for choosing their career path. While they’re good enough reasons to get started, they aren’t nearly good enough to be great.

After more than 30 years in HR, I have some thoughts about what it takes to be effective in this profession. Here then, in the tradition of David Letterman, are the top 10 things I think every HR professional needs to do to succeed (in reverse order, of course).

10. Have a vision. 

Know what you want to accomplish—and why. Don’t wait for your organization to define what HR should be. There are lots of examples available and a little research will orient you to the range of the options available. Make it your business to know what’s possible. Study everything you can find and network with others to become your own expert. If you’re being interviewed, articulate your goals. If you’re already working, outline them every chance you get. Discuss your ideas with your leadership team to get their input and buy-in.

My vision at Wynn Resorts was to develop a culture where people would want to work and stay. The results included attracting more than 3 million job applicants for the 125,000 openings we filled over 20 years; an annualized 11 percent turnover rate during that time; no grievances or arbitrations filed (50 percent union, 50 percent nonunion); and being named as one of America’s most admired workplaces.

9. Be a strategic thinker. 

Every top organization needs HR leaders who align with the company’s goals by learning what...

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