Nine Questions

The next participant in The Field Guide's interview series - "Nine Questions" - with HR thought leaders is Kyle Jones - a favorite of the many HR bloggers I read on a regular basis (and a fellow Whovian to boot)Below, Kyle gives us his thoughts on everything from why HR is awesome, the move toward the cloud, embracing professional regret, leadership (and what it means), and much more...

Tell me why what you do is rewarding, challenging, and I suspect in your opinion (and mine) quite awesome?
I have an opportunity each day to make a difference. Isn’t that simple fact something quite awesome? The functions of HR constantly regenerate as we adapt to changes in laws, business needs, etc. This is an exciting time to be in our industry. 
Do you believe in the notion of professional regret? Why or why not? If so, what's been your biggest professional regret? 
Yes, I believe in professional regret, but I do not think we should dwell on those regrets. When I look back over the years, are there things I regret? Sure. Can I change them? No. The past is much clearer when viewed from the future. Does clarity bring about regret? The potential is there, of course. We look back and see missed opportunities and paths not taken. We make assumptions of what might have been. So, yes, I believe in the notion of professional regret; however, maybe we should focus on what might be yet to come. I can’t name a biggest professional regret. All the choices made have brought me to where I am today. 
What do you think has been the most significant game changer in your specialty area of human resources over the last 5 years? Over the course of your career? 
This answer comes from the point of view of my SHRM volunteer roles as Social Media Director. The spread of social media - and technology in general - transformed our culture. We live in a world where terrorist organizations use social media for negative propaganda while celebrities and world leaders use it to bring awareness. We see hashtags attached to everything from TV shows to sporting events. Yes, our culture differs from that of 2010. And, I am sure that it will be different in 2017, too. Let’s face it - social media will continue to evolve but businesses must evolve our chosen means of communication. While we must ensure data is secure and policies are in place, HR leaders can help usher this change. ROI is more important today than it was in 2010 so I suggest embracing technology as a means to enhance employee communication. The result of this could possibly be an increase in productivity - something that everyone wants. This applies to both 5 years and over the course of my career. 
Where do you see your area of specialty heading in the next 5 years? Do you think that’s a good or bad thing? 
I would anticipate further cloud integration. Good or bad? It depends upon the view. One could argue that a server could crash and data could be lost - and that might happen. But, guess what? It could happen just the same to a company uses a floppy disc to backup data. 
In your opinion what’s the most important part of the talent management puzzle: attracting talent, acquiring talent, developing talent, or retaining talent – or something else entirely? Why? 
You described this particular HR function as “the talent management puzzle” and I’ve given thought to each individual piece in an attempt to choose the most important. So, let’s assume that I chose developing talent and I write several paragraphs describing why I think it is important. Would I not neglect the other aspects of the talent cycle if I gave more importance to one? The talent cycle is a tricky beast and all aspects from attracting to retaining are important. A company may have a great onboarding experience with a low turnover rate but fails to attract new employees. Imagine the benefits received on the ROI of human capital for those who focus equally on all. 
What do you think is the biggest failure of most organizations when it comes to their talent strategy? Is there an easy fix, a difficult one, or can it be fixed? 
The biggest failure for most organizations is not having a talent strategy. How would an organization without a talent strategy fix the problem? Will it be difficult to fix? I think this depends upon the willingness to ask the right questions and the backbone to accept the potential brutality of the answers. An organization that asks the questions but only accepts certain answers might be better off to simply save the time and not ask the questions. Yes, it can be fixed. 
In your own words, define what it means to be a leader? Do you think anyone can become a leader? Why or why not?
A leader is not a title as anyone can have a title. I can give myself the title of Omnipotent Executive Leader, but does it make me a leader? Does that title automatically make others follow my lead? No, it does not. I define a leader as someone who inspires others to follow. A leader’s reputation is built on the successes of the team. A leader is someone who will turn the spotlight on the team instead of illuminating his or her own accomplishments. A leader, who places him/herself above the needs of the team, in my opinion, is not a leader. Anyone can learn leadership characteristics and I believe some who are not normally leadership material can master leadership skills. The key is the person’s motive. Is leadership wanted solely for your power and personal gain? If so, a leader you are not. 
In your opinion, what’s the biggest challenge facing human resources related professions and professionals today? 
Considering that we are heading into an election season, the navigation of the ever-changing political landscape and the impact it has on HR might be the biggest challenge. I acknowledge this has always been the case but our country seems to have reached a level of polarization not seen in many years. It matters not the side of the aisle. What should matter is the welfare of the American People. Who are the American People? They are the bankers, the lawyers, the builders, the maids, the assistants, the doctors, the teachers, and – believe it or not – the politicians. All of them - they are the people who HR can and do influence daily. 
What words of advice would you give to a college student considering a career in your field? To someone looking to transition careers? To someone in your field that is feeling burned out or turned off?
My advice, while simple, carries impact if heeded. You must attempt to choose a career that personifies your strengths. Our chosen careers will occupy our working hours for years and, if lucky, decades. I don’t believe it to be coincidence that the most successful people work in a “job” where the work is equal to their passions. In short, do what you love and do it well. For someone looking to change careers, know this: It is never too late. Take a leap of faith and believe in yourself. Be the voice of confidence and reach for the unknown. For someone feeling burned out or turned off, know this: Don’t make decisions based upon emotion. Take a moment and breathe. Find the reason for the burnout. Find the cause behind feeling turned off. Be brutally honest and ask the hard questions. Seek outside counsel – family & friends, religious, professional – if needed. We may not like the answers and we may need to make changes; however, the spark isn’t smothered. We just need to find the fuel to reignite our drive but we must first remove, resolve, and restore any issues preventing us from burning brightly.

Kyle Jones has over 20 years of experience in a variety of roles including human resources, recruitment, customer service, and social media. He’s the current Social Media Director of the Mississippi State Council of SHRM, having served in volunteer roles on both the local and state level since 2007. Kyle was recipient of the 2012 Mississippi Spirit of Human Resources Award. He has written articles for company, HR and social media blogs as well as being a contributor to Performance I Create, a multi-contributor HR blog. and shares his passion for HR and Social Media on his blog, HR to WHO. Kyle is currently co-hosts two podcasts, The PIC Podcast and Doctor Who Podshock. Connect with Kyle on Twitter @kylemj6977 or on LinkedIn.

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