Five risks HR needs to take

There's a tendency for HR to get worked up in how their employees are developing along. But Margie Warrell is here with five ways that HR can take risks and open up their careers.

Ask any successful person, and they’ll tell you that a key to their success was being willing to take risks and, when plans failed, learn the lessons and move on. No wallowing. Ah, if only it were that easy! 

Margie Warrell is a best-selling author, Forbes columnist, and international authority on brave leadership. Find out more about her at

Research shows that our brains aren’t wired to make us happy, they’re wired to keep us safe.  It’s hardwired into our psychological DNA to:

  • Overestimate the risks, focusing more on what might go wrong over what could go right
  • Underestimate our ability to handle risks (and ladies, we out do men on this one!)
  • Discount the cost of inaction
  • Resist change and stick with the familiarity and status quo

While avoiding risk can provide a temporary sense of safety, in the longer term it tends to leave us only less secure, not more so. It also puts us at risk of one day looking back and wondering ‘What if?’

To help you find your courage at work and in life, here are five acts of courage that open the door to enjoying more of what you want in your career, business and life.


1. Risk confrontation: Be courageous in your conversations

The most important conversations are often the most uncomfortable. It’s why we too often avoid them.  However when you risk speaking up about the issues that are weighing you down you not only spare yourself unnecessary angst but you earn trust in ways that tiptoeing around crucial issues never can. People may not always like what you have to say, but they will always respect your courage for saying it.


2. Risk mistakes:  Be decisive despite your uncertainty

Sure, it’s your job to ensure mistakes aren’t made. But be careful that you don’t’ let your fear of making a mistake keep you from actually doing your job better!  Sometimes you have to risk doing something less than perfectly in order to simply get it done or to find a better way to do things than before. Look at the big picture and ask yourself if by avoiding any mistakes, you’re actually doing everyone a disservice -- yourself most of all. 


3. Risk rejection: Ask for what you really want!

No one enjoys being rejected but only when you risk rejection can you have the chance to get what you really want. Of course you may not always get what you ask for, but assuming people can read your mind is a recipe for frustration and resentment.  Taking responsibility to let others know what you want puts you in a best possible position to getting it. Dare to ask for what you really. Who knows, you may actually get it!


4. Risk quitting: Fail fast and fall forward

Sometimes the bravest thing we can do is to press on when the going is tough. Other times it’s to admit what’s not working and to call it quits.  Every day (or dollar) you invest in something that isn’t producing the results you want is a day you aren’t working on something that could.  Sure, it can be painful to call it a day, learn the hard lessons and move on. However, letting pride or fear of losing face (and appearing like a failure) keep you sticking what is clearly not working is a poor reason to keep going. Smart people constantly risk failure, they just don’t spend years doing it. So fail fast and fall forward. Delaying decisive action can grow increasingly expensive.


5. Risk disapproval: Forge your own path

As social beings, we’re wired to want to belong and so fear of being ‘left out’, ‘pushed out’ or ‘missing out’ can be a powerful unconscious driver. However, to achieve outstanding success, you’ve got to be willing to stand out from the pack – to veer away from what everyone else may be doing or saying and do what is right for you.   Might some disapprove? You bet. But if you let what others think dictate your actions, you’ll never produce the results you most want for yourself and for others.  

We’ve all heard the saying that ‘fortune favors the brave’. Accordingly, while acting with courage doesn’t guarantee success, it always precedes it. So go on, be brave. The odds are better than you think!


Margie Warrell is a bestselling author and leadership coach, facilitator and speaker.  She will be speaking at the HR Summit & Expo Asia, taking place on May 9 and 10. Find out more about her plenary talk here, and check out her speaker bio here

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