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Faces of HR: Stacy Lord on Being Present and Prepared

Analysis  |  By HR Daily Advisor  
   September 15, 2023

'HR can effectively demonstrate its value to the leadership team by fully engaging in activities that will allow them to learn about the business and gain business acumen.'

This article was first published on September 14, 2023, by HR Daily Advisor, a sibling publication to HealthLeaders, and has been adapted for HealthLeaders.

Human resources (HR) leaders in healthcare can learn and take valuable information from HR leaders in other sectors. In this article, read how one leader's passion for helping others.

Meet Stacy Lord, HR Manager at University of Phoenix. Lord has been with the university for 16 years now, kick-starting her career as an enrollment representative. Her responsibilities included duties that allowed her to help others progress in their roles, such as peer performance coaching and skills training. It was during this time that Lord’s passion for helping others and relational skills was ignited.

Stacy Lord

A senior leader in operations would become her mentor, helping her explore further career paths. A few years later, Lord became a learning facilitator, operating in myriad roles.  

Lord said, “There was a time where I was placed into the business as an L&D partner, and I was introduced to the Human Resources Business Partner (HRBP) role. I drew a strong interest in that role and identified that I wanted to pursue my career as an HRBP. I started mentoring with the HR Director who provided me with the guidance and encouragement I needed along the way. I connected with HRBPs to gain insight, advice, and to become familiar with the new department.”

From there, Lord joined the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), taking advantage of the resources available the professional membership association provided.  

“I had just completed my master’s degree in management and had no desire to pursue another degree,” Lord recalled. “When positions were posted I applied and interviewed several times and was hired as an HR Representative, Investigations Specialist role in April 2015, when I simultaneously began my HR Management Certificate and my career in HR. In August 2016 I was promoted to HRBP, then to Sr. HRBP in 2019, and to HR Manager in 2021.”

In her current role as HR manager, Lord oversees the development and implementation of HR strategies that effectively align HR principles with the university’s business objectives. Additionally, she spearheads leadership coaching, talent management, employee engagement, employee relations, performance management, and staffing and compensation strategies. Lord also serves as a trusted advisor and strategist to management and assigned client groups and more.

In our latest Faces, meet Stacy Lord.

Who is/was your biggest influence in the industry?

My mentor, the HR director who helped me find my way, was my biggest influence. Joining his team was the best thing that happened that led to the start of my career in the HR field. I would always observe him and his HRBPs in confidential meetings with senior business leaders discussing things that I assumed would impact the company in some way. I wanted to be a part of those meetings, I wanted to participate in the discussions, I wanted to influence decisions, and I wanted to be part of his team!

What’s your best mistake, and what did you learn from it?

Often, in this profession, we must deliver tough messages and must navigate the recipient’s response. I was counseling an employee on his performance, and I tried to relate by sharing a personal experience, and it backfired on me. The employee made a very insensitive comment in response and basically told me he did not care about my experience and that it was not helpful. I had another time early on in my HR career when I was having a difficult conversation with a senior leader, and although I felt prepared, the leader disagreed with me and pushed back on my guidance the entire time.

I stuck with the conversation and continued to pivot throughout, but in the end, I did not persuade the leader to change their perspective. I felt very strongly about my view, so that was not easy walking away from. I did not lose confidence; this just motivated me to prepare better next time. It also helped me identify that no matter how strongly I feel, I need to keep an open mind because there will be times when other directions are taken. We are all humans and have feelings, but I learned that in this profession, do not take things personally. Stay focused on the agenda, and take your feelings out of it. Not everyone will like what you have to say or agree with you,  and that is OK. It has nothing to do with you personally. It just comes with the territory of work that we do.

What’s your favorite part about working in the industry? What’s your least favorite part, and how would you change it?

I like the level of importance of the work we do every day. I like the pressure, as stressful as it can be at times. I enjoy the challenge of keeping up with the industry and ensuring I follow best practices. I enjoy the level of involvement HR has within the organization and being involved in decision-making that influences outcomes aligned with business goals. I do not think you can change my least favorite part; it just comes with working in HR and dealing with the challenging life situations we as humans experience.

It sounds like, through your experience, you really care about people, and you want to help them feel safe and comfortable, which is important in the industry. Please elaborate here.

It is very important to help individuals feel safe and comfortable. Just hearing the term HR makes people anxious; they think they are getting in trouble. I always knew I worked well with people and wanted to help them in some capacity. Because HR can sound intimidating to some, my goal is to always be personable and approachable. I try to be present as much as possible in various ways, not just when I am needed. In my role, I can’t expect employees to automatically be comfortable coming to me when they need to. I must put in effort toward helping them feel comfortable with me. I invite employees to reach out to me any opportunity I get, and I make myself available as much as possible. It is important for employees to understand that I am part of the team of support and resources they have.

How can HR most effectively demonstrate its value to the leadership team?

HR can effectively demonstrate its value to the leadership team by fully engaging in activities that will allow them to learn about the business and gain business acumen. HR partners can use this knowledge in the guidance provided and to engage in conversations with the leadership team. Most importantly, this will help build credibility. If you demonstrate that you understand the business and how they operate and what they are trying to accomplish, leaders will listen when you speak. Leaders will allow you to influence their thought process and decision-making if you can demonstrate that you understand and that you are there to be a business partner and are not just someone in HR that they call when they have questions. 

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of the progression in my career since starting in HR in 2015. I believe my progression through roles with increasing levels of responsibility and expertise proves to myself and others that pursuing my career in HR was the right thing to do.

Do you have any advice for people entering the profession?

The work in HR can be challenging but very rewarding. When times get tough, do not forget to take time for yourself to recharge. When you experience success, take the time to celebrate.

HR Daily Advisor is BLR’s FREE daily source of HR tips, news, and advice. HR Daily Advisor offers free webcasts, articles, and reports on topics important to HR and compensation professionals.

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