August Interview: Bill Thompson on.. How to be a Superstar in Human Resources

August’s Interview with Bill Thompson focuses on How to be a Superstar in Human Resources! Read on.

Q: What do you mean by Superstar in Human Resources?

A: You are a Star because you are already in likely the most important profession for two reasons: Employees are so important to any organization for its initial and continued success. Labor expense is usually the first or second biggest expense in any company.

Q: What is the first step to being a Superstar?

A: You need to know your profession. Study and get your accreditations with the Society for Human Resource Management. If you are an HR Specialist, know your specialty area of expertise. If you are an HR Generalist, know a lot about all the functions in Human Resources.

Q: What is the next step?

A: Learn the mission, purpose, objectives of your company or organization. Here is how – obtain and know the Mission Statement, Strategic Plan, Budget, and Objectives. What else? Meet with key people and ascertain what their problems, obstacles, and goals are. For example, meet with the President, Department Managers: Sales, Marketing, Production, Controller, Supervisors, other Employees.

Q: What do you do with this information that you have gathered?

A: Organize it into the two main categories: Income – Sales and Expenses – typically payroll expenses.

Q: What is needed next to become a superstar?

A: Prepare a draft of objectives, projects HR will do to contribute to the success of the company, and then meet with key managers. Get their suggestions about how you can help them accomplish their objectives in your plan. In addition, you will be getting their buy-in and concurrence to implement these projects. Ask: What are examples of HR projects to improve the success of the company?

Q: Talk about Income and Expenses further, please.

A: Income – Increase sales training of customer-contact employees, products, services, cross-sellingEstablish or improve programs to motivate employees to sell more with rewards programsImitate recognition programs of the most successful companies.

Expense – this equals reduction. Achieve great results with the same—or fewer employees. Use the bell curve for pay for performance. Ensure that the company’s top 10% are paid the best. These are your top performers and you don’t want to have to replace and train new people. The middle 80% – get them to improve performance by providing tools, training, incentives, and having them work closely with their managers.

Lastly, the bottom 10% percent, what to do with them? Some employees will be able to improve and some will not be able to improve. Accept that and act accordingly.

Q: Would this be enough to improve the success of the company?

A: No – because there needs to be follow-through for outcomes success. Identify the various projects on a Project Report. Provide a copy to top management and meet monthly with each key manager to assist with implementation and answer questions.

Q: What would prevent someone from becoming an HR Superstar?

A: Continuing to be myopic about your HR responsibility, seeing it narrowly. Not realizing that all HR functions are a means to an end; the goal is a successful company – not just a successful HR Department! Not making more income for the company than it costs for the HR function, with the improvement projects, each year.

 Q: How do you know when you are an HR Superstar?

A:  When you are recognized by the President as a major contributor to the company. When the other managers recognize you as a peer and a partner with them as helping them with their endeavors. When you go to an HR conference and brag about your contributions to the company, not about what great HR programs you have within the department.

Q: What are your concluding thoughts on this topic?

A: YOU have the greatest opportunity of anyone in your organization because: You are helping people and employees are usually the biggest expense on any organization. You are in a great position to make a difference.

William “Bill” Thompson is the successful owner of a management consulting company for over 25 years and has worked with over 300 companies, ranging from 10 employees to over 1000. He can be reached at