Why HR Needs to Take Charge of its Career Growth

HR career growth transform

For me, last year marked a significant change. I made the decision to invest in myself that year. I made the decision that investing in and putting my own time, effort, and attention into myself was worthwhile. It was the year I made the decision I wanted more from my company and understood there was more waiting for me as an HR leader, manager, and business owner.

I talked about this shift in a recent Workology podcast, Why I’m Going All Marie Kondo…On Myself. In this episode, I go over my own “aha” moment that set off this critical shift in my personal and business life. Transformation is at the heart of my brand, but after some significant changes, including a move to Austin two-and-a-half years ago, opening my coworking space (Duo Works), writing a book, traveling for conferences and client meetings and speaking engagements, it felt like I was pedaling as fast as I could – except it was on a stationary bike. 

Consequently, I’m advising others on how critical it is to concentrate on HR transformation and upending the status quo, but my personal progress had become entangled in overseeing what I do every day, switching from one vital task to another as soon as it presented itself. Don’t get me wrong; I love the rush of adrenaline that comes from working with HR leaders, discussing trends, forecasts, and the newest technology with experts, delivering a client-focused solution, and working into the early hours to get my inbox “near enough to” zero. I’m a people-pleaser and a multitasker, and both of these traits made me feel like I was who I was.

Personal Transformation In Human Resources 


Prioritizing myself more would help me avoid running out of energy. I knew I couldn’t keep going at the same pace and still be the best I could be for the people who mattered most (my family) and the ones I wanted to serve. I understand what burnout feels like and what apathy looks like (clients and the leaders in our industry). Was my work last year excellent? Absolutely. Could I keep up the pace indefinitely? Zero chance. I had to conduct a needs analysis on my own life in order to prevent burnout. I took a step back and identified what I could delegate, what I could reprioritize, and (important) what I no longer needed to focus on.

I became aware that a great deal of HR leaders and practitioners might be going through what I went through while I worked on this for myself. Because of their (1) extreme busyness, (2) commitment to the needs of their company rather than their own development, and (3) lack of the luxury of taking the time to find resources for professional growth, they may be passing up opportunities for professional growth and transformation.

I refocused on assisting other HR leaders in their growth, development, and transformation as a result of my own mental shift. The focus is on HR. Companies are in dire need of mentoring, leadership, and development, so in order to help these companies, we must improve and expand our own skill sets.

I Found My Purpose in Helping to Elevate HR 


We all began our careers in HR with the goal of doing fulfilling work and helping people find their foothold in their own careers. It makes us happy when we work with others to lift them up, coaching and mentoring and giving them the compass that sets them on the path to doing what they love and making a living from it. For me personally, there was a point where I was focused so much on doing this that I forgot why I started it in the first place. This is what is driving this change in me and it’s my purpose to share it with HR and help you do this too – not just in your professional lives, but in your personal lives as well. 

I mention this in the podcast about Kondo-ing myself, but I’m doubling down on my personal transformation. I’m taking more time for myself, and booked my first retreat in May. I’ve made a promise to stay true to myself, scale back, and focus on the things that bring me happiness and joy. That’s what’s working the most and the best for my business, my career, my growth and my work-life balance. I’m attending a May 2020 Retreat by Gabby Bernstein, I’ve hired a virtual assistant, I’m delegating, I’m reading, I’m meditating…and I still have time to focus on my business. I’m planning a new partnership and a Virtual HR summit. The best part? I’m genuinely, ridiculously excited about what I’m working on every day.

HR Leaders of All Sizes Need Career Growth and Support Plans 


There is a huge need for HR pros in organizations of any size but especially the small to medium (under 10,000 employees) to develop, grow, and focus on HR’s own transformational growth. We’re missing some great opportunities because we’ve let busy-ness take over our professional lives. We all need a strategic plan. How many times have you asked other people where they see themselves in five years, in 10 years? Can you still answer those questions yourself? It’s important that we get the tools we need to lead our own growth and development in HR, no matter what the economy looks like. While nothing is ever certain, I believe that taking charge of our professional growth is the first step to future-proofing our careers in HR.

All of this is the reason we have launched the UpSkill HR membership at Workology. It’s the reason I’m investing and sharing what I’ve learned with others. Growth doesn’t happen overnight and while there are internal changes and choices to be made, it really happens with a whole community and network of people. 

Bonus: This webinar is worth 1.0 HRCI Business and SHRM credit!

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Amar Yadav says

    Very well said. I am an HR manager and found your blog on the search engine. I like your your blog because I know HR is backbone of the company. Interesting and very nice blog.

  2. Prosper Dzitse says

    this is very insightful. Personally, i have taken the decision to develop myself SO that i don’t run out of STEAM IN the long run. Hr PRACTISES keep changing every now and then. I have discovered that, the traditional HR roles, hiring, recruitment, placement among others will soon be so easy for everyone to do. So whether the PERSON is IN marketing, communication, public relations or accounting as many online resources become available, it will make IT easier for them to perform such roles. Hr then must make self development, diversity and multiplicity a priority in order to maintain the relevance in every organisation.


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