10 Skills That Will Make You an Outstanding HR Professional

Okay, so we all know that HR professionals need to be good at dealing with people. That much is a given. But there is so much more to be being an HR professional than just that. The modern HR professional has to be a business thinker, a strategist, an influencer, and a great communicator. That’s just for starters. They also need to ‘get’ technology – they need to understand the benefits of technology and how best to leverage it to suit individual and organizational needs.

We’ve outlined below what we think are the 10 top skills that make an outstanding HR professional.

1. People skills. HR spends so much time dealing with people and people issues, so good people management skills are essential. Say no more.
2. Communication, negotiation and influencing. These three skills are linked and critical to the success of any HR function. HR professionals need to have them in abundance.
3. Business nous. Today’s HR professional really needs to know the business inside out, know its drivers and objectives and how to meet them. Yet, many plough on without considering the business. Research by benchmarking company Towards Maturity found that only 55% of HR professionals analyse a business problem before recommending a solution. (http://www.towardsmaturity.org/article/2014/05/01/Towards-Maturity-aligning-learning-business-2014/)
4. Industry awareness. To understand your business, you need to understand the industry it operates in. HR professionals need to know what’s going on in the industry, what’s trending and the skills that are needed now and in the future. Unfortunately, a lot of HR pros fall short on this too. According to research by the Learning Performance Institute, 49% of the 2,000 plus professionals who have completed its Capability Map think industry awareness is part of their job (https://www.learningandperformanceinstitute.com/capabilitymap.htm). Furthermore, only 12% consider themselves experts at industry awareness.
5. Strategic awareness. If HR wants to have any credibility within the business, it needs to operate strategically.
6. Tech savvy. HR has to get to grips with what tech has to offer. Learners are using technology to the max – HR needs to catch up. Analytics is huge, yet according to the CIPD’s HR Outlook Survey 2014-2015, HR is still lagging behind most other business functions. Fewer than half of respondents to the survey said their HR function draws insight from data and communicates it to stakeholders to help drive competitive advantage.
7. Change management. Organisations are in a continuous state of change. HR needs to be at the forefront of making those changes happen. Change management skills are critical. Yet, managing change and cultural transformation are current priorities for only 24% of the CIPD survey respondents.
8. Problem solving and conflict management. HR has to deal with a lot of grey areas – say two senior leaders have hit an impasse and HR needs to help them move forward. HR has to be able to address conflicts, diffuse them and find workable solutions.
9. Results driven. There is a lot of fluff in HR and the profession is often accused of being swayed by fads. HR needs to overcome this by focusing on results and demonstrating it. Want a new training module – what results will it give?
10. Discrete and ethical. HR has to be confidential, ethical and follow best practice in everything it does. It has to help the business be the same.