7 Ways to Make the Shift From HR Pro to HR Leader
While many CEOs think about their business as ‘People First’, a lot of HR professionals are still looking for their place at the executives’ table. Talking ‘human capital’ and ‘performance’ has become fashionable in the hope of creating the perfect employer formula that will make their organisation stand out. However, only few are those business leaders who integrate the factor HR in their decision-making process. Their excuse? HR is too costly, resistant to change and is not able to provide the hard numbers that would build the case for its usefulness…
As we notice through the fast evolving nature of work (through a variety of management styles, business automation and a sophistication of organisational behaviours) and the necessity to hire top talent to create value; HR still struggles to influence the leadership team. Let’s think about it for a moment. Who’s better positioned than HR to understand people, leverage psychological and social mechanisms to develop a strong corporate culture, and strengthen attraction and engagement in a constantly changing environment?
The digitalisation of workflows, processes and client services is underway. The HR function is confronted to the re-invention of organisational business models and is a witness of the irreversible demographic shift that is happening today.
Here are 7 main levers HR can use to contribute to change their organisation and work environment for the better:
1. Know what’s next
Staying ahead of trends and being able to anticipate answers should be part of your skill set of HR leader. Too many HR professionals are scarred of the future and what’s awaiting them at the next corner. Social trends and technology should be at the forefront of a HR leader’s toolkit. Many resources are available today (just like this blog!) to help you stay on top of it all. HR professionals need to be recognised as innovators rather than become the victims of change. That means that they need to equip themselves with monitoring and audit systems to help them embark on the boat of innovation right on time. HR must anticipate the demand for new, specialised competencies and jobs that are a result of the world’s digitisation. This involves accompanying employees and managers through appropriate training so they know what’s coming next.
SaaS HR automation systems like EmployeeConnect can leverage your employee database to draw actionable business intelligence through analytics, reports and dashboards. HR becomes the engineer of the employer brand and markets its offer on mobile and social platforms. Managing a diverse workforce and creating adapted onboarding and development programs is at the heart of a HR daily routine. Offering greater flexibility, a better employee experience through collaborative management, mentoring and coaching are just a few ways utilised to generate a loyal employee base.
All of the above mentioned concepts have now flooded the HR field for the past few years. What must be pointed out though is no longer the newness of those concepts but the quality of their implementation. Monitoring what’s new will allow HR leaders to align opportunities with their business, client and supplier needs, as well as their processes.
2. Stick to what you believe in
Without the traits of a true leader, a HR professional will remain a simple administrant. Therefore, the development of the HR function relies on the awareness of its own strengths. HR has a major social impact on business. The function is responsible for developing the social dialogue and its agents need to have a good sense of empathy, proficient emotional management skills and closeness to their employees. However, those soft-skills are certainly not enough to mitigate the risk hidden behind a merger project or a restructure in the eyes of a CEO.
HR needs to use solid numbers and adopt a scientific approach to demonstrate the significance and value of its convictions. From sociology to economics and marketing, HR leaders should use the power of scientific studies and business cases to back up what they believe in. Metrics and ROI should be tracked to prove the value of HR projects.
In order to influence the crowds, HR leaders will need to act as entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs have a great sense of initiative, are relentlessly seeking positive gains, are able to negotiate, take risk and communicate.
3. Update your pitch
Today, marketing is highly focused on customers’ needs and wants. Marketing has understood that to be successful they needed to update their language to use words that resonate with their clientele and prospects. The technique that consists in promoting an employer’s brand is referred to as HR Marketing. Like marketers, HR professionals need to be customer-driven, or in other words, employee-driven.
What shapes an organisation and ultimately makes it stands out is the quality of its employees. The best HR marketing should be based on employees themselves. Employer branding, HR marketing, social media, collaborative management and knowledge management are as many opportunities HR can use to update their pitch and make their employees shine through.
4. Network. Network. Network.
To be part of the leadership team, you need to belong to the decision-makers group itself. Without any personal connection or link with the influential personalities of your organisation, you will be less solicited when it comes to making important decisions.
Understanding the business context, the motivations and political games of an organisation should be part of the HR skill set. These competencies are required to promote a HR’s business value, career and ideas. Too often devoted and dedicated, HR people tend to feel inappropriate in their role of influencer.
5. Turn yourself into a mentor
Adopting the attitude of a coach is what any HR should aim for. The ability to listen, advise, empathise and the understanding of the socio-psychologic challenges of today are what a HR can bring to their leadership team. To reach a stellar position on the corporate ladder, HR must become a mentor, an attentive ear, a well-rounded advisor and a mastermind on the short and long run.
6. Build a strong workplace culture
We’ll never say it enough. Culture is the foundation of your organisation. Like the engine of your car, it makes your people move forward. By building a strong corporate culture, HR can adopt an influential position within any business. A strong corporate culture is a culture of engagement which in turn strengthens loyalty and improves customer experience. The architect of an influential business culture will have defined organisational goals and drawn a clear blueprint (i.e. vision) of how to get there. The ability to innovate is deeply rooted into an organisation’s culture. It is the X factor that attracts talent and makes an organisation stand-out.
7. Wear your black hat
No witchery or black magic going on here, but a simple reference to De Bono’s ‘black hat’. HR leaders should act with caution and make use of their critical judgement to interpret information in an unbiased way. What is the data that I’m looking at? Where does it come from? Data is always true. It’s the way we interpret it that can be biased and out of context.
Become a storyteller and get insight from your data. Big data is everywhere and its your capability to extract relevant intelligence that constitute an opportunity for the HR function to renew and influence their leadership.