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On Friday, February 21, an accomplished panel of HR leaders joined the Suburban Area Interest Group to give emphasis to the importance of developing ourselves as human resources professionals in 2020. We are often focused on developing our workforce, putting aside our own learning. To be effective business partners, we need make a conscious effort to upskill ourselves.

The case for HR professionals to make their development a priority has never been more important.

Facilitated by Senior Manager of Enterprise Learning & Development at CVS Health Loren Sanders, speakers Molly Rudberg, Chief People Officer at Reverb, Carrie Buchwald, senior vice president of the Lake Forest Center for Leadership, and Jon Kaplan, senior learning & development executive and consultant at Corvantus Consulting, shared their expertise on how can stay current and relevant as HR professionals.

The panelists were all in agreement that business acumen is the number one skill for HR professionals to possess. Understanding the direction of the business, key drivers and the ability to speak the language results in more successful interactions with leadership. Digital and interpersonal skills are equally essential to being a respected HR leader. While HR promotes the value in investing in training and development for other employees, they must do this for themselves as well. This is done by showing the connection to the bottom line. Low and no-cost options such as informal learning, book clubs, YouTube videos, mentor programs and professional associations like HRMAC are good options to start with.

With the shortage of talent, innovative HR professionals are in demand. Organizations with future-leader programs must include HR professionals in the mix. Often, C-suite executives have the opportunity for executive coaching. HR should advocate for a coach for their development as well. Rudberg shared, “Everyone deserves a coach in their lives to help with blind spots. Making coaching a mindset will allow it to be scalable for the entire organization.” (Reverb, which was recently acquired by Etsy, just purchased its own coaching platform.)

Development is non-negotiable. Whether it’s a week-long training program or reading a short article, any nugget can help in your growth as an HR professional. The workplace should be a safe place to test and learn, and providing more opportunities to innovate will lead to a more productive and richer organization. The case for HR professionals to make their development a priority has never been more important.