It’s What Heroes Do: Planning to Make a Difference in 2018

As Human Resource professionals, we can sometimes feel we’re in a bind. Reacting to something someone has said or done. Working to fulfill business objectives – enabling and encouraging individual and collective performance.

No one wants to be SNL’s “Claire from HR” anymore than we want to face the challenges overcome by Thor in Thor Ragnarok, but on any given day we may feel like either.

It’s What Heroes Do: Planning to Make a Difference in 2018

How am I comparing the “Claire from HR” caricature to Thor and relating them to Strategic HR? Thor said it best in explaining why he was returning to fight a perceivably overwhelming and invincible foe,

I choose to run towards my problems, and not away from them. Because that’s what heroes do.

I committed to two things in writing this:

1. It’d be less than 777 words

2. It’d discuss 2018 planning from the perspective of senior human resource leadership

So let me refer you to Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s HBR article, “Smart Leaders Focus on Execution First and Strategy Second,”  in which she offers,

Top leaders can provide the framework and tools for a team, but the game is won on the playing field. When a strategy looks brilliant, it’s because of the quality of execution.

Now is your opportunity to look at 2018 with the enthusiasm and optimism of Thor in a battle for his life, without his hammer, recognizing the importance of having a plan and while probably imperfect – high-quality, innovative and persistent execution.

Your goals may be documented. Your budget may be set. Take some time though to consider WHAT MATTERS to you, your team, the people and organizations they support, your organization overall, your industry, and our profession.

Thor is forced to reconsider what matters. What winning looks like. Cecile Strong’s “Claire from HR” is forced to address the otherwise unthinkable actions of others. What was thought to have been handled, needed attention – the desired outcome reconsidered.

Take time to ponder 2018, to reconsider with your teams what matters. Make real and actionable plans to execute against those things. Take initiatives that elicit as much pull from your organization as they require push from you and your teams. Do things and do them in ways that make HR an organization that people expect to make things better. Make plans that move HR from the punch-line of a joke to a trusted advisor. Get heads nodding – not just the heads that work for you or the heads near you, but heads throughout your organization.

Here are some topics that are talked about but may be worth investigating from the standpoints of implementation and impact in 2018:


 Do people throughout the organization understand how their efforts relate to organizational success?

Is it taken seriously from the top to the bottom of the organization? Does leadership mirror the behavior they expect from others?

Are goals reviewed, discussed and open for editing regularly?

Is goal alignment realistic and prioritized around what’s important?


Do leaders know the what and how of their people’s performance? In a manner that’s caring not micromanaging?

Do people know where they stand? Are they fulfilling the intentions of their role? Are they being directed in impactful ways? Do they know why?

Do leaders get feedback from employees? Peers? Customers?

Are toxic people challenged?

Career Progression/Internal Mobility

What artificial barriers prevent people from contributing to the organization in new and compelling ways?

Is internal talent valued at least as much as external talent?

Do you have plans to use consultants to do what could be an opportunity, not just additional work, for others? At what cost?

If external recruiters can call your people at any time to present new and exciting opportunities, can internal recruiters?

Common Sense Compliance

You know those agreements we acknowledge when upgrading software, signing up for a new service, downloading a new app?

How about the policies and handbook at work?

Is there an opportunity to move beyond blind, uncontemplated, acknowledgment? A possibility of highlighting what matters within these and presenting them in a way that’s relatable and memorable?

Those are just a few topics. You have your own. What matters organizationally and what’s tangible individually depends on and changes as expectations evolve through the human experience.

When your people talk about your organization, do they laugh, cry, shake their heads, or nod because what they experience makes sense to them? Because they are excited about it? Can head-nodding be a defining characteristic of engagement? For employee experience?

Identify and plan to run towards your opportunities.  Get heads nodding by focusing on what matters in ways that matter.

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Jim Fox

Jim Fox has been in the recruitment business long enough to have some good stories. Admittedly, that doesn’t take very long, but you get the idea. Jim led the Human Resource team for Recruitment Process Outsourcer, The RightThing and for ADP’s Talent Acquisition Solutions businesses. Currently, as ThePeopleFox, he provides advice on talent acquisition and human resources with respect to brand, process, and technology. He believes in the importance and power of people in the workplace and welcomes robots too if they have the right skills. You can follow Jim on LinkedIn.


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