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How To Get The Gold Medal In Human Resources

Gold Medal Human ResourcesI watched the coverage of the Olympics over the weekend and caught a segment on Olga Korbut, the former Soviet Union gymnast who captured the world’s attention at the 1972 Munich Olympics. I knew she had won the gold medal, but I didn’t appreciate that she was a game changer – for gymnastics and for the Soviet Union.

Through the 1950s and 1960s, Soviet gymnasts assumed a robotic style, going about their routines with measured precision. Their faces betrayed no emotion, certainly not joy or delight. The gymnasts were performing for the judges and technical precision eclipsed everything else. At the same time, the sport praised artistry and elegance. It had yet to see the adrenalin-pumping acrobatics that we associate with gymnastics today. Unfortunately, the approach of pre-1972 Soviet gymnasts reinforced the perception many had of the Soviet Union, essentially perpetuating the cold war on the gym floor.

Olga and her coach decided to take a risk. They injected both personality and higher lever acrobatics into her routines. Olga would perform not only for the judges, but for the audience. With beaming smiles, expressions of joy and a handful of jaw-dropping acrobatic moves, she captured the imagination of everyone in the gym, and won gold in the process. In business terms, they opted for a new strategy and it worked. Not only did she revolutionize the sport, but Olga and her coach changed the perception of Soviet athletes, as well.

That’s all well and good, but what does it have to do with HR? Here’s the corollary: HR has a strategic role in any company, but it’s often perceived as a tactical and reactive function. It’s time to change that perception.

HR in any organization needs to start playing an even more relevant role. As Talent Management becomes increasingly more important, it’s time for HR managers to think creatively, challenge the norms and revolutionize how they bring value to their organizations. Just as every athlete from the 1970s to this year’s gold-medal winners takes many steps along the way to the podium, so too can HR teams make changes that progress the strategic value of the function.

There are already innovative, creative ideas circulating in the industry, things like identifying the traits of leaders for specific company cultures and developing a talent pipeline to meet future company goals. HR teams need to start looking at ideas like these and evaluate which ones might work best within their culture, budget, etc.

Let’s revolutionize HR one step at a time. We’re ready at FerVID. Are you?

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