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Soft Skills for HR Professionals
To work in any profession, one should not only have “Subject Matter Expertise” but also personality, behavior, decorum, mannerism, attitude, professional approach, and thinking to work efficiently and to sustain in that given profession. Failing which, irrespective of your knowledge, education and background you will never be able to grow in that profession. This is also true for HR Profession. There are some minimum expectations from HR Professionals, in the way they carry themselves, behave and present themselves that can hamper or lift their image and professional graph. Some of those traits and attributes I have mentioned in this article. Though, to a large extent I have covered all the attributes but still I consider this list as INCLUSIVE and not EXCLUSIVE. The need is to benchmark your Personality and Behavior. Respect can only be earned and not “asked for”.
Nine Qualities all HR Professionals Should Have
1) Clarity of Thoughts – In most of the situations and circumstances, we come across two options; either we want to do or we don’t want to do; either we agree to it or we don’t agree to it; either it is acceptable or it is not acceptable; either you want or you don’t want. It has been seen that many HR Professionals are confused. They are not clear, where they want to take their company. They don’t know what role they like to play in the organization. They don’t have clarity of role. They don’t have clear expectations, neither from themselves, or from their team or from their internal customers (employees). With this confusion, they fail to take decisions. They fail to take stand.
2) Efficiency in Time Management – HR professionals is expected to be efficient in time management. They are expected to set time-frame and meet those expectations. Most of the time, I have seen that they don’t give any time limit. You approach them for any work and they respond by saying, “Ok, it will be done”. But when? I agree that “Good HR Professionals” have many things to do. Recruitments, Employee Relations, Talent Management, Career Development, Benchmarking, etc are the things, which takes lots of time. But, all goals, all dreams, all activities, all commitments looks good and are achievable, if there is a closing date for that. For Example, I want my company to be in top-10 companies in the world. It’s a Vision. It’s a good dream. But, if I don’t specify, by which year or in how many years, I want to achieve that goal, it will only remain as a dream and will never become a reality. Uncertainty, Ambiguity, Open-Ended commitment, Confusion, these are things, that are not expected from any HR Professional.
3) Compare Performances / Compare Situations & Circumstances but do not compare individuals / People – Knowingly or unknowingly but quite often, instead of Circumstances and Situations, we tend to compare two different people. Instead of analyzing the behavior of a person we tend to analyze them as an individual and take this as our right. The very basic principle of science and management says that no two individuals are same.
4) Knowledge about the Business and Industry – Everybody should be aware of their strengths and weaknesses. They should be aware as what they want in their life and career. It is a well known fact and has been proved in various surveys that HR professionals don’t care to understand the business of the company and the industry that they are working in. According to the survey done by Virgin Management Consultancy 67% HR Professionals in USA and 83% HR professionals in India do not know the nitty-gritty of their company’s business. They don’t know from where the revenue is coming. They don’t know the business model of their company. I think, as it is important to know about the city and country that you are traveling to; it is equally important to know and understand the business of the company that you are working with.
5) Vision and Goal for the Department, Team and Organization – What you want to do for the organization? Are you planning to implement a competitive compensation plan? Do you want to take your company in the bracket of 25 “Best Employers in the Country”? Are you planning to acquire best of the talent from market? Do you think that you need to control the growing Attrition Rate of your company? Have you thought about “Organization Development” and “Talent Management”? Usually, that is the confusion. HR professionals and HR heads don’t have that vision. They want to do something in HR but don’t know what they can do or should do. They should have vision for the organization from HR perspective and goals for their department and team. It’s a must have. Until and unless you are sure about your destination, you cannot take the path.
6) Love for Number / Data / Figures / Calculations / Analysis / Projections – You talk to any person in any other profession and tell them that you are in HR; two things will automatically flash in their mind – Theory and Politics. One reason why HR professionals in India have not been able to enter into the Board Room and make their presence felt in the organization is because though they have ideas, they have strategies and policies but they are not able to support those strategies with data. (It is just because of the fact that there is no mathematics and calculations involved in this subject that many people [mostly females] love to join this profession).
Just to substantiate my point that most females are not good with Mathematical and Statistical calculations and that is one of the key reason for them to join the profession of HR.
In a survey done by Virgin Management Consultancy, in 67 cities across the world in which they covered following geographical areas:
They interviewed 11, 500 HR Professionals. The finding are as follows:
56.7% of total recruitment professionals are females.
79.4% of total trainers and “Organization Development” professionals are females.
39.1% of total HR strategists are females. They look after HR Policies, Procedures, Processes and forms
However, only 2.6% of females are working in Compensation and Benefits department of division.
8.9% females are working in Legal Compliance Team.
3.2% females are handling the payroll, investment advisory desk and tax advisory desk of their organization.
11.5% females are working in HR Operations, thereby handling Performance Management, Time Office, Career Development and Talent Management.
18.7% females are working as HR Analysts.
It is proved from the above data and figures that most of the females are working in those functions of HR which doesn’t involve complicate mathematical and statistical calculations.
For example, if I have a “Retention Strategy” and I want to implement in the organization. I need to show, how much the implementation of that strategy will cost; by what percentage the company will be able to increase the employee retention and decrease the attrition; which are the companies that are using this particular strategy and how effective it has been in their cases. If, I am going with this data, calculation and analysis, I am sure that my strategy will be discussed and implemented.
Hence, HR professionals need to be more analytical, data oriented and good in calculations. They should not be subjective and theory oriented.
7) Enthusiasm to Share / Develop / Coach and Mentor – We have heard and read in our schools and colleges that “Knowledge is a wealth; the more you distribute/share the more you gain”. In this profession of HRM & D; we are privileged and are in a very unique position where we can develop people. We can develop their career. We can develop their life. We can help them in changing their perception and behavior. We can groom them, so that they can be successful in their life. Don’t you think that we have very important and crucial role to play?? How many of us have actually thought in these lines? Do, think about it, you have one life, give what you can. If 10 people will remember me once I bid adieu to this world for helping them in developing their life, I will consider my life as successful.
8) Self Discipline – This again is a common quality that everyone should have, irrespective of the profession they are in, but it is more appreciable in HR Professionals and is like a must have quality. They need to set standards for others to follow; they need to benchmark their own behavior and if they start flowing with water, everything else will go for a toss and things will go out of control. I have heard, people saying that I am doing this or that because others are also doing it but that is not expected from HR Professionals. Discipline in life is a must to grow, prosper and being successful. So, set standards and don’t just flow.
9) Trust Worthy – This is very important quality and must have for all HR Professionals. Candidates, at the time of interview share important information with HR; Employees share lots of information, personal, professional, ideas, suggestions, future related, dreams etc. Imagine, if the HR professional keep sharing that information with everyone in the team of HR; will that employee ever comeback to HR to share anything with him. NEVER. HR professionals need to win that trust and then maintain and keep that trust. This is very true for HR Professionals, who are working in “Employee Relations”. Relation of any kind, be it with employees, is based on trust and honesty. If ever, you break that trust, you will never be able to win it again.
5 traits that any HR Professionals should not have…traits that can hamper their Growth
1) Ego or Attitude: Larger than role attitude – Well, when you are working with people, interacting with people and the number of people that you are interacting with is large, you cannot afford to have ego. You need to come down from your level and talk. It is not easy, just next to impossible to match with the expectations of everybody. In this profession, people will hate you, ignore your contribution, blame you but in spite of that you cannot afford to have ego. I have seen HR professionals who are over-flowing with ego. When they start talking, it appears as if they are doing any favor by interacting with you, communicating with you and updating you with new strategy or policy. This is another reason, as why HR professionals are not able to make that impact in this profession to make them counted.
2) Should not be emotional – “Touch everyone’s heart and don’t let them touch yours”. “Be empathetic but don’t cry with your employees”. Every human being is emotional and it’s only irony that to be effective and focused, HR Professionals should not be emotional. By being emotional, there is a chance and high probability that these HR Professionals will not be able to do justice with their work. They should be like that fish, which need to swim in water to survive but should not get wet.
3) I know everything (I don’t need to learn from you) – This is another negative trait of HR. They present themselves in a way, as if they know everything. That is not an end, the irony is that neither do they have “Subject matter expertise” nor they are good in “Human Relations” and nor do they want to learn anything. This reminds me one story of goat and lion. Goat, whenever she see or come across lion, she closes her eyes and assume that once I close my eyes, lion will not be able to see me. So, that is a situation of HR Professionals.
Read this axiom.
If he don’t know and don’t know that he don’t know, he is arrogant, AVOID him.
If he don’t know and know that he don’t know, he is a student, TEACH him.
If he knows abut do not know that he knows, he is sleeping, WAKE him up.
If he know and know that he knows, he is a LEADER, Follow him.
I think, in this axiom, I have given the message that I want to convey to my fellow HR Professionals.
4) I am GOD; I am THE Kingmaker –
If you are hiring someone;
If you are paying salary to someone;
If you are giving promotion and growth to someone;
If you are nice to someone
You are not doing any favor to him. He deserves, that is why he is getting. If you are giving, even though he do not deserve, then you are CORRUPT.
Many of HR Professionals send across this message to the shop-floor that “Don’t mess with me, I can spoil your career” or “I have done favor for you. Respect me”.
5) Should not be biased (No Favoritism; No Grapevine; No Office Politics) – HR Professionals, most of the time keep themselves engaged in “Office Politics”. They initiate “Grapevine”, water this grapevine and believe in this grapevine. Whatever might be the reason but it is a gray area and they need to improve on that. This is another reason that no one take HR professionals seriously. I know, in one of my previous employment, when we started “Employee Relations” and “Employee Communication”, all employees use to consider this HR Representative as “Company ka jasoos” (Detective from management). In office politics, most of the time HR Department is considered as “Hub of All Politics”. HR Professionals need to come up, and increase their level of thinking. They need to be more matured.
As I have mentioned in the introduction, this is INCLUSIVE list of qualities that all HR professionals should have. In one of my previous article, I have mentioned that for HR professionals to stand-up and get counted, there are miles to go. Some HR professionals have started this journey but many have still to take that “FIRST STEP”. Believe me, we are in a very good profession and if we can try we can changes in many ways. We have an opportunity to give jobs, give careers, professional growth, coach and mentor people. On other hand, we can increase productivity, motivate employees, manage talent, build brand for the company and also make the company “Best Company to work for”.
So, kindly stand-up, take that first step and get counted.
Looking forward to your comments and feedback.
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