A colleague recently asked me what it takes to be a successful human resource
professional in today’s employee-centric business environment. While not an
easy question to answer, it was a good question that gave me pause. After
much thought and conversations with the many human resource management experts
here at the HR Daily Advisor, I’ve come up with my list of nine essential
skills for successful human resource management.
I might also add, that the list really hold largely true for any business
professional who is tasked with influencing and leading others inside their
Give my list a read and let me know what you think:
Human resource management requires an organized and orderly approach. Organized
files, good time management, and personal efficiency are key to the human
resource function. For example, managers want timely access to accurate personnel
files, and they need advice on compensation and workplace features such as
Most human resource professionals are likely to be handling an employee’s
personal issue one minute, a benefit claim the next, and a recruiting strategy
for a hard-to-fill engineering job the minute after that. Priorities and business
needs change fast, and you’ll need to change with them.
3. Discretion and Business Ethics
Human resource professionals are the conscience of the company, as well as
the repository of confidential information. Along with speaking the language
and serving the needs of top management, you will monitor officers’ approaches
to employees to ensure that proper business ethics are observed. The successful
human resource professional must push back whenever it’s necessary to keep
the whole firm on the straight and narrow. And you will be responsible for
handling appropriately-and never divulging to the wrong parties-confidential
information about everyone in the organization.
4. Dual Focus
Human resource professionals need to consider the needs of both employees
and management. There will be times when you will make very hard decisions
that must protect the individual, the organization and the organization’s
culture and values. And you may make them without revealing all you know to
anyone inside or outside the organization.
5. Employee Trust
Employees look for confidentiality and expect human resource professions to
advocate for their concerns. Yet you must also advocate for enforcing top
management’s policies. This can be a difficult balancing act.
Successful human resource professionals demonstrate fairness and inspire trust.
However, fairness doesn’t mean that everyone must be treated equally. Rather,
it means that communication is clear, that peoples’ voices are heard, that
laws are followed, and that privacy and respect is maintained.
7. Dedication to Continuous Improvement
Human resource professionals need to help managers coach and develop their
employees. The goal is continued improvement and innovation as well as remediation.
8. Strategic Orientation
Forward-thinking human resource professionals take a leadership role and influence
the strategic path that management takes. Human resource management must ensure
that the organization flourishes and avoids problems.
9. Team Orientation
Human resource management must understand the dynamics of teams and find ways
to make them work. That’s because most companies today are often organized
into teams, rather than into hierarchies headed by supervisors and managers.
Remind yourself once again that you are in human resource management because
you are skilled at jumping over hurdles and solving interpersonal problems.
Your role isn’t to make everyone like you. You won’t win all your battles,
and there will be some people who don’t like you, despite your best efforts
to be fair and honest.
Your main mission is to gauge and fill the labor needs of your company, help
to attract and retain the most qualified employees, and fulfill employee financial,
benefits-related, and psychological needs. That’s a fairly comprehensive list
of duties. Are you up for the human resource management challenge?
You’re going to need to straddle the fence between the “soft” and
“hard” sides of the business. It’s the nature of your job. But if
you have to ultimately pick a side, here are the watchwords: Think and act
strategically at all times if you want to be a player!
Take things one-step at a time. Remember that you are not alone in this –
even if you are a solo human resource practitioner. So take a deep breath
and hold on. You are in for an interesting ride.