Last month I was fortunate enough to receive a career accomplishment award from Pay and Benefits magazine. The award was based on some very kind testimonials from a range of sources, the leadership shown during my career, and a range of other accomplishments. I work in a very ‘grounded’ environment and this award was greeted with both some kind comments but also a recognition of the amount of grey hair necessary to qualify for recognition of this kind!

But setting aside my own circumstances, I wonder what accomplishments HR professionals would wish to be recognised and remembered for?

As the profession has evolved and grown, witnessed by the celebration of the CIPD centenary no less, there has certainly been an increase in formal award/recognition schemes for HR professionals. These acknowledge the contribution by various types of HR practitioners, from directors, business partners, L&D and reward specialists, through to graduates, consultants and specific interventions like talent programmes, diversity initiatives, and recruitment campaigns.

How do you make a difference?

These awards highlight some very worthy recipients who work diligently and intelligently, showing commerciality and high degrees of professionalism. However, what must always be at the heart of such efforts is consideration of impact and the key question as to what difference the person or the initiative has made to the organisation. It should never be about the HR function for its own sake.

When I reflect on the best of the HR leaders that I’ve worked with over the years (including my colleagues at William Grant & Sons) the most notable feature has been the impact on their respective companies: some in a wholly transformational way, others in a more incremental fashion.

Benefitting the company & the employees

In my humble opinion, there can be no greater accomplishment than to be responsible for making a change for the better; all the better when the interests of the company and the employees converge and the change itself is of the sustainable variety. It is a truism that fads and fashions come and go (usually accompanied by a flurry of new job titles) but solid contributors who bring about positive change tend to remain in vogue.

With that in mind and as the CIPD itself moves towards celebrating 100 years of its existence, I wonder what career accomplishments HR practitioners across the country will consider to be their own personal proudest achievement?

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Written by Gary Brewer, global head of reward & OD, William Grant & Sons

Gary Brewer is global head of reward & OD for William Grant & Sons. He has formerly held lead HR roles across the Pharmaceutical, Financial Services, Media, Transport and Public Sectors. A Fellow of the CIPD, Gary is currently an Employment Tribunal member and has also held various Board and Consultancy appointments.

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