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Opinion

By Allison Ebner

Over the past several decades, the human-resources position has slowly evolved from a very tactical and compliance-heavy role to a more holistic and thoughtful voice that helps lift an organization to bigger heights.

That slow pace of evolution has had a few Red Bull energy drinks recently and is now moving at the speed of light, threatening to leave behind HR professionals who are not moving to gain new competencies and tools.

The ‘new world of work’ is comprised of a complex ecosystem of operations, technology, and integration of human capital. In short, this symphony sounds perfectly harmonized only if all parts of the orchestra are playing the right notes. Like the meteoric rise in AI technology, the skills we must bring to our organization as the people professionals have taken a giant leap forward.

So, what are these new competencies that HR professionals need to bring to the table today? Let me quote my colleague, Kim Dunn for the simple definition first: “business first, people always.”

Business Acumen: Do you know the financial picture of your entire organization? Can you read a P&L or balance a full budget? Do you follow your industry trade publications or attend events to become more educated? Travel with your sales teams to talk with your customers and clients? It’s only when you have a full understanding of your business operations that you can effectively create a talent plan to support it.

Data Literacy: Does your current HR technology support the needs of your organization? Are you maximizing the tech that you have now? Reporting and metrics tied to your people operations are critical components of your strategic plans and initiatives.

Problem Solving and Critical Thinking: Ready to get uncomfortable? Figure out how to build relationships with people you don’t really like. Why? They probably think differently than you do. And that means they have a perspective that you don’t. As HR people leaders, we need to be able to clearly evaluate all sides of an issue or problem, and we can’t do that in a vacuum. By the way, this also includes building and flexing your negotiation skills.

Creating People-centric Cultures: This one feels closest to home for most HR professionals. But we need to expand our skills around helping our employees build resilience and understand that change and uncertainty are here to stay. They’re part of our daily lives now, and we need to learn to function in a world of VUCA — volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.

Organizational Transformation: This includes skills like refreshing your employer brand for talent development, updating your EVP (employee value proposition), and rebuilding your performance management system — big initiatives that put you at the center of the strategic table in your organization.

You may be feeling very comfortable with some of these competencies and less confident in others. That’s OK. Conduct an honest assessment of where you need to focus your attention and find resources that can help you build those skills.

EANE is here to help you with that initiative. Our HRYOUniversity programs are designed to help you be a well-rounded HR professional with all the talents you need to take your career to the next level. For a discussion about building your own learning pathway, contact me, and I’ll be happy to send you our self-assessment form and a few other resources to get you started.

 

Allison Ebner is president of the Employers Assoc. of the Northeast. This article first appeared on the EANE blog; eane.org