In terms of reputation, HR departments are usually the stable, workhorse teams who keep everything else in an organization moving. Some people outside of the HR world, don’t often think of HR leaders as innovators, but the reality is that the HR backbone of a growing company needs to be current and flexible in order to help the whole organization thrive.
If you’re wondering how to get your own team into a state of readiness for whatever comes along, these are the skills you’ll want to foster at every level of your team.
1. Future Fluency
No one can anticipate what the big trends will be three, five, or ten years from now—but you can help create a constant state of readiness. Part of that is ensuring that your team is tech-focused and able to adapt. Think of it in terms of the recent public health crisis that is forcing more and more people to work at home: those who are able to do their jobs remotely are seeing fewer disruptions to their work than those who don’t have the digital flexibility to work from home. Having a robust IT department can help, but unless your staff is fully trained on all the necessary systems and has a deep understanding of how tech is evolving for HR and recruiting, it may not be completely effective.
As a leader, it falls to you to understand what is available, which tools work best for your organization, and what the imminent trends might be.
2. Data Analysis and Business Intelligence
Data, data, data. We generate it in every aspect of our lives, and the most successful organizations are able to take in massive amounts of information (about customers, markets, employees, stakeholders, sales, etc.) and turn it into actionable business insights. At this point, we’re expected to use data to guide just about every business decision. So if you’re not already moving in that metric-heavy direction, you should be prepared to do so in the near future.
The good news here is that HR has long been using data to drive decision-making (like recruitment metrics and strategic planning)—once again, HR is ahead of the curve. Being conversant in the best people analytics tools (like programmatic AI and other tech tools that convert raw data into useable insights) is key; so is knowing how to use that information to make strategic decisions about your resources.
3. Creativity and Innovation
These days, everyone has things like “creative problem solver” or “innovator” on their resume. But what does that mean, skill-wise? For an HR leader, it means thinking comprehensively about every aspect of your employer brand and how that impacts your team’s everyday work. It’s about finding ways to sync up various functions in your group so that you’re building a strong core brand. Designing a comprehensive social media and outreach strategy, as well as working with your organization’s marketing groups, will help you think of dynamic ways to shape and reshape your employer brand.
4. Communication Skills
Okay, so you already know that communication skills are essential for, well, just about any job. But in order to be a next-level HR leader, you need to work on your storytelling skills. One of HR’s most essential tasks is engaging people and making your organization’s goals and values clear. Finding the right story for each audience—like potential employees, executives, existing employees, the public—and making it part of your cohesive organizational narrative takes serious skill. Having clear narratives about what the organization values, what the organization wants to accomplish, and what the organization can offer its team members can help you create and grow an employer brand that draws everyone in.
To guide your HR department into the near future you already have to have a diverse, well-balanced set of skills. Putting extra work and care into these particular skills can help you lead your organization exactly where it needs to go—no matter what the future looks like.