Challenging human resources professionals to be curious, determined, innovative and disruptive, HR veteran Jennifer McClure told the attendees of 2013 Louisiana SHRM conference in Baton Rouge that they can develop a competitive advantage by building strong business acumen and in-depth business knowledge.
McClure, an HR practitioner for nearly two decades, gave an afternoon keynote speech earlier this week at the conference. She advised HR professionals to become big-picture thinkers, embracing strategy development and execution, organization development, decisionmaking, teamwork, business ethics and technology knowledge.
McClure has worked as a recruiter, executive coach, HR generalist and HR specialist. She is the founder and owner of Unbridled Talent LLC, which consults with businesses on growth and problem-solving. In her speech, she outlined four objectives for HR professionals:
“If we’re talking about the future, we have to know how we got to the present,” McClure said at the conference, tracing the profession back to the early 1940s. McClure educated the audience on Lena Harvey, one of the first HR professionals. Harvey’s title was “Welfare Manager” and she was considered the Corporate Mother responsible for social events, cleaning up after employees and more. In the years hence, those titles evolved into “Personnel Director” and “Asset Manager” until finally becoming “Human Resources.”
These days, globalization has created a smaller world, McClure said. Over the past 70 years, businesses went from managing employees who operate machinery to leading employees who are “free agents.” It is getting more difficult to recruit and retain in a competitive market.
HR managers who want to keep up with the changing times need to become more like business partners and less like our HR ancestors, McClure said.