The Qualities Of A Great HR Leader

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The Qualities Of A Great HR Leader

Many business owners will say that employees are their greatest assets. However, managing employees and team engagement may be the biggest challenge a leader can face. Strong and successful human resource leadership requires a mix of management qualities and soft skills. In this article we explore what makes a great HR leader.

Fostering a Culture of Development

The first characteristic that separates great HR leaders from others is a genuine concern for developing others [1]. This further expands to providing coaching, acting as a mentor, and giving feedback in a helpful way and applies at all levels of the organisation. Deloitte showed that 42% of respondents who have been seeking new employment believe their job does not make good use of their skills and abilities. Furthermore, 26% of those who planned to leave their jobs in the next year cited a lack of trust in leadership as a key factor, whilst 62% of employees who plan to stay with their current employers reported high levels of trust in their corporate leadership. [2]

These statistics emphasise that if organisations do not have effective HR leaders, they subsequently fail to see employees’ underlying potential through deploying sufficient employee engagement strategies which could cause them to lose out on attracting and retaining talent.

The problems associated by not prioritising workforce development are further compounded given employee retention is becoming ever more challenging with the advent of technology enabling remote working to become more widespread - check out our blog on The Future of Work for our take on how this develops.

Influencing and Building Relationships

The role of a HR leader has changed dramatically in recent years, no longer can a HR leader focus their efforts narrowly on building their own function and monitoring attrition rates. On the surface this concentration makes sense. However, HR professionals must demonstrate more than just basic HR competency. They are expected to be key partners who help drive their organisation’s overall business strategies. To do so, HR professionals need to think strategically, connecting a robust HR function with an in-depth knowledge of their organisation’s core business issues and aspirations. [3]

HR leaders should connect and communicate with the senior management of organisations to educate and share the understanding that employees are pivotal in impacting business results. This requires HR leaders to possess excellent communication skills at all levels within the organisation.

Consequently, they should harness their functional and technical skills to develop diversity and inclusion initiatives as well as labour relations to attract, maintain and develop the best personnel to fulfil the business objectives.

The Power of Empathy in People Management

Empathy can be defined as “vicarious introspection”. While strategic thinking, change management and the ability to execute are often highly regarded in the business world, empathy is one of the most underrated leadership skills. Yet, the capacity to be able to relate to others can inspire and empower a team to greater heights. There is nothing “soft” about trying to see things from an employee’s perspective. In fact, by putting oneself in the employee’s shoes, a leader is likely to motivate their team to deliver better results.

Application and Development of Functional Knowledge

The final element of a great HR leader that merits identification is functional knowledge and application. This is contextual knowledge that is relevant to a HR leader in their particular organisation, industry and role. I.e. specific employment law, changes in regulation etc., to name some. HR leaders provide support and expertise for organisations where employees are unaware of labour laws, hiring rules, benefits and compensation issues. Having said that, this is but one element, and the differentiator between a great HR leader and day to day HR manager, is the attitude towards functional knowledge development and applying expertise in an analytical and strategic way in order to impact the organisational objectives positively. A great HR leader will continually be learning and remaining up to date with continuing professional development and industry best practices to implement in their organisations. [4]

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