Lots of people misunderstand HR. After all, HR is the group that often has to deliver bad news. But HR can be a rewarding career that makes a difference in people's lives and helps businesses succeed.
Many individuals pursue HR because they love people. A good HR leader understands people, business and how the two fit together. The ideal HR leader knows that hiring, developing and retaining excellent employees is the key to a successful organization.
Leading With the Right Skills
A great HR leader needs to be a liaison between all the departments of an organization. For example, business leaders often think they can cut expenses by paying people less. It's up to an HR leader to point out that paying people below market rate can result in unhappy and unproductive employees.
HR leaders should have excellent communication skills and the confidence to confront people. Because HR departments handle confidential information, HR leaders should possess honesty and discretion. If someone didn't receive a promotion, an HR leader should be able to explain what can be done for that person to reach their goal. If someone needs to be retrained, an HR leader should speak up about it. And if someone is flailing in their position, an HR leader should take the person aside and offer help.
Another critical skill for an HR person to have is the ability to understand legal matters. There are so many laws that cover the relationship between employees and employers that it's difficult for any one manager to keep up with these rules. An HR leader should know the law, but also know when it's time to defer to an employment lawyer.
Having an Impact and Driving Strategy
HR leaders are often referred to as business partners, and for good reason. An HR team can help drive the strategy of an organization, which is why HR can play a huge role in business success. After all, the key component in any plan is the people executing it. HR can sit down with senior management to discuss ways to motivate, train and prepare the right people for any plan. If employees aren't on board with the changes senior management wants to make, there could be problems. It's critical to have someone speaking to the needs of employees. In today's knowledge economy, the most valuable thing businesses have is their people. That's why HR is important here, because they make sure an organization's people are seen, heard and cared for.
Questions to Ask Going Forward
If you're an HR leader, stop and think about how things can improve across your organization by asking yourself the following questions:
- Are there any ways I can understand my employees better and increase how engaged they are at work?
- Are there people in leadership positions having issues with their staff? If so, what can I do to help bring resolution?
- Are there things I need to communicate better? How can I improve communication in the organization overall?
None of these questions have easy answers, but if you do try to answer them and work toward their solutions, you'll likely find a happier, more engaged workforce in the coming year.