The role of the human resources (HR) professional is a complex one with a wide range of different responsibilities. In order to be effective, HR representatives need to have a wide range of different skills, including empathy to connect with employees and excellent time management skills to ensure that all necessary tasks are accomplished. Since HR professionals must embody so many different qualities, the process of hiring the best HR leader can be exceedingly difficult. Company executives need to think about the culture that they want to develop and the traits that are most important for creating this atmosphere through HR operations. For example, some companies may want a laidback atmosphere and value approachability in their HR workers, whereas others may find structure more helpful and look for candidates with strong organizational skills. Following are some of the most essential HR skills that all companies should take into account when filling positions in the department:
A typical day in an HR department could involve mediating a conflict between employees, a complicated question about vacation time allowance, creating a new talent acquisition strategy, or assessing the success of a new talent development program. On top of all this, the HR department must handle employee engagement, social media outreach, and regulatory issues. HR professionals need to be able to juggle a number of tasks without letting anything fall through the cracks. The job also demands the ability to prioritize certain tasks and keep everyone happy.
2. Conflict management
One of the primary tasks of an HR department involves handling conflicts that arise between coworkers. Conflict management skills require that individuals understand how to tailor their approaches to problems based on the particular personality of each person involved. In addition, HR workers need to understand how power dynamics affect conflict and approach issues between employees and managers with particular care. Conflict management also goes hand-in-hand with multitasking. A majority of the people who come to HR departments with a problem think of their situation as a crisis. Through good conflict management, HR professionals can prioritize without making anybody feel ignored.
3. Comfort with grey areas
Few things in the HR world are black and white. Whether they involve interpreting a company policy or a federal regulation, many issues fall into a grey area. For examples, at what point does conflict become discrimination or harassment? What is a “reasonable” accommodation for a business trip? The answer to an employee’s question is often incomplete and based on the best available information. HR professionals need to be comfortable working in this grey zone and must have the diligence to keep on top of problems that require a more direct answer. Sometimes, dwelling in the grey zone is not a problem. At other times, individuals need to consult with colleagues, attorneys, or other experts to get a solid answer. HR professionals need to recognize when this is necessary.
A part of dealing with the grey area involves negotiation. When problem solving, it is often necessary to arrive at a compromise rather than a set answer. Negotiation involves identifying what is at stake for each party involved and finding a solution that speaks to all of the main issues. Sometimes, what is at stake is not obvious even to the people in the negotiation. HR professionals need to ensure that all individuals walk away from a dispute with a feeling of satisfaction rather than harboring resentment. While negotiation plays a key role in conflict resolution, it is also important in talent acquisition and has become critical for the public relations role that HR departments frequently find themselves in through social media.
5. Change management
Today’s businesses are in constant flux, and a majority of an HR department’s time is spent helping employees to deal with this constant change. Modern companies often have four or five generations working side by side, which involves shifts in various business processes, as well as compromise. In addition, traditional company hierarchies are shifting, which can create confusion about structure. HR professionals must have excellent communication skills in order to ensure that everyone is in the loop. The task of keeping morale high and maintaining a positive company culture in the face of frequent change falls to the HR department.
6. Strong ethics
While all employees at a given company should have a strong code of ethics, this quality is especially important among HR professionals, who often live in grey zones and are forced to make difficult decisions. HR departments lead by example, and they are looked upon as a bastion of ethics at most offices. Trust between HR professionals and employees is crucial in order to accomplish the department’s tasks. All information shared with HR professionals should be handled in a professional and discreet manner so that individuals will not hesitate to bring a problem to the department’s attention. At the same time, there is a fine line between employee confidence and the reporting of liability matters. HR professionals must be comfortable making this call and, more importantly, communicating their responsibilities to employees.