Transitioning from an HR Operational mindset into a value-added HR Management Style.

Susan Manning
4 min readJun 30, 2021

How to embrace a value-added management style.

The challenge I have experienced for many newly-promoted HR professionals is striking the proper balance from leading the team — rather than doing the work for them. But how do you make that necessary mindset adjustment? As is not always easy!

Career progression is a natural part of professional life. With experience and hard work, you’ll naturally progress from HR Generalist/Operational roles to HR Business Partner/Leadership roles. While hard work, passion and a wealth of knowledge are all primary requisites for career progression, they don’t always prepare you for a leadership role.

Being reminded of the words from Marshall Goldsmith ‘What got you here, won’t get you there’. Now is the time to look at the habits and behaviours that could be holding you back in your new role.

Often I find that HR professionals can find it challenging to get into the right mindset for their new role. They need to shift their focus to be only doing the work that they should be doing which is guiding and leading and not doing the work.

Last year I was working with an HR Director who had developed her career in an SME so she knew everything that went on in the business. The company now had over 300 employees but she was still involved in decision making that was no longer her area. She was working nearly 60 hours a week but not having either the impact or achieving the results she wanted.

I asked her to review all her meetings, projects, emails and conversations with the filter, ‘am I the only person, who can do this work?’

And she was surprised at how much of her time was spent on activities that did not require her knowledge or her input. She became aware that she had become the first person in the organisation to be asked all questions ranging from facilities to health and safety.

Yes, there was a change of mindset both with herself and the people she was working with but now she is doing the work that is having an impact on the organisation and building her status to be that of a true HR Business Advisor while energised by the work she is now doing.

People respect a manager who leads from the front, someone who stands shoulder to shoulder with their team. However, if you are not careful, this kind of management style can be problematic. As it can be tempting to settle back into the management style that resembles your old role, to take over the work that’s expected of your team rather than letting them thrive on their own. Senior HR Professionals need have to be cognisant of where they stand in relation to their team and there are three key steps that you can take to ensure a smooth transition:

  • First, you have to understand how your team dynamics have changed and evolved as you have developed into your leadership role. Awareness of changing team dynamics is the first step in preserving the correct level of job roles in your team.
  • Next, you have to embrace career clarity which involves understanding the congruency between your job duties and those of your team. If you are doing work that needs to be delegated to your team, then take the time to mentor the junior HR person on how to do the task. It may be a short time pain for a long time goal. With the added bonus of mentoring and guiding your junior team members.
  • The final step is growing into your leadership role by understanding the true depth of your impact and contributions. This can include HR professionals on the team who may need more input or support than what you can provide and you need to look at other development avenues. It also includes recognising that you might not be as involved in certain aspects of the HR deliverables as you would like. You only have an infinite amount of time!

Being An Impactful Leader

Sometimes newly-appointed Senior HR Professionals struggle with feelings of accomplishment as their to-do list is not as transactional as before. Leadership means shifting your focus from routine HR tasks to big-picture thinking. Your true impact as a leader is encouraging value-added activities from your team. That means implementing policies and programs that enhance employee engagement at a company-wide level.

As a newly appointed Senior HR Professional, you are supposed to be a consultant, teacher and force for accountability but without operational tasks on your to-do list, it can seem like there’s nothing left.

The key mindset shift is to be reminded that you are no longer overloaded with all of those day-to-day tasks, but instead, have an abundant array of new responsibilities where you can provide value add management to your Team, Business Partners and the Organisation.

I would welcome to hear in the comments what has worked for you in developing your value add management style.

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Susan Manning

Leadership Consultant and Clarity Coach — Providing essential CLARITY for greater effectiveness in a chaotic world.