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Let's start out with a definition of what an HR Generalist is from my viewpoint:

HR Generalist - a HR pro at any level who is in charge of a client group of employees - M_Awesome-Tee-For-Hr-Generalistmeaning they provide HR services to a location, a business unit, a functional area or geographical area.  As part of this role, they provide counsel, service and insight across the HR Body of Knowledge - comp, benefits, recruiting, employee relations, legal, etc.

An HR Generalist can exist at the individual contributor level or manage people, as well as exist at the HR Rep, HR Manager, Director, VP and CHRO level.

Some people define an HR Generalist as a early career HR title.  Don't be fooled.  An HR generalist is more about mindset and world-view than it is about a title.  If you serve a client group and they come to you seeking counsel on every item under the sun, you're probably a generalist.

Good news - The guy behind Warren Buffet thinks you're the valuable type of talent that exists inside an organization.  More from The Hustle:

Behind every lauded genius, there tends to be a No. 2: A Pippen to Michael, a Woz to Jobs, and, dare we say, a Munger to Buffett.

For 40 years, Charlie Munger has served behind the scenes as Warren Buffett’s most trusted business partner.

He’s played a pivotal role in managing Berkshire Hathaway’s $178B stock market portfolio (Q3 of last year), advising him to invest in electric vehicle powerhouse BYD back in 2008, and many others.

While Munger has worked tirelessly over his 70-year career, there is one thing (or, technically many things) he contributes to his success.

Knowing a little about everything

According to Munger, his theory on work ethic, AKA ‘expert-generalism’ goes somewhat against the ever-popular 10,000 hour rule.  

According to Quartz, rather than “lasering” in only on investment theory, his strategy is to study “widely and deeply” in many fields that he could one day apply as an investor.

Bill Gates once said, “[Munger] is truly the broadest thinker I’ve ever encountered… Our longest correspondence was a detailed discussion on the mating habits of naked mole rats and what humans might learn from them.”

You can be an expert-generalist too

Orit Gadiesh, the Bain & Co. chairman who coined the term, describes expert-generalism as “the ability and curiosity to master and collect expertise in many different disciplines.”

Research shows EG’s have:

Hmm, sounds like the world could use a few more EG’s.

If you're an HR generalist at any level, be proud.  You're a trusted advisor that understands that the world is gray, and you also know how important you are in helping those in your client group navigate all the complexity and chaos that comes with managing a workforce.

Simply put, HR Generalists are the most important cog in the HR world.  Be proud, because you are irreplaceable.  

 

Comments

Glenn Gutmacher

Love it. It starts with being more wide-ranging readers (if you don't love reading as a common habit in your free time, that's one strike against your succeeding this way) and then putting into action some of the inspiring things you read about. Charlie Munger obviously does this well in applying to investing, but if you're, say, a tech-skewing HR person, learning to code in a data analytics context by reading and doing w/the many interactive tutorials for Python, etc., out there would also count.

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