What Are the Top Competencies HR Leaders Must Possess?
As the nature of doing business changes, HR roles are expanding and refocusing. Far from simply reacting to major events in the business climate, economy and labor market, HR professionals are uniquely positioned to look ahead to industry and global changes and to anticipate the resulting impact on how business is conducted. HR is increasingly called upon to navigate organizations through changes that occur as a result of trends in globalization, technology, the labor market, and financial outlooks. In order to successfully fulfill these expectations, HR leaders must respond by identifying and developing the competencies required of their dynamic roles.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the top 18 competencies for HR include: 5
- Business knowledge: An understanding of the operations and processes of how business is conducted.
- Coaching/developing others: Helping others to reach their potential.
- Credibility: Being perceived by others as having the knowledge and experience to back up one’s authority.
- Critical/analytical thinking: Seeking information and using that information to inform decision and resolve problems.
- Cross-cultural intelligence: Knowledge of and sensitivity to differences among cultures.
- Effective communication: Being able to verbally or in writing convey messages in terms that make sense, and also to actively listen to others’ interpersonal communications.
- Ethical behavior: Perception of the moral appropriateness of individual and/or group conduct or behavior.
- Flexibility/adaptability: The ability to adjust the approach as required by shifts within the organization and in the external business environment.
- Global intelligence/global mindset: An overarching way of thinking about the nature of doing business that includes an understanding of and sensitivity to cultural differences among workers in other countries and legal issues inherent in operating a business multinationally.
- HR knowledge: Understanding of tactical and strategic HR functions and processes.
- Integrity: Honesty and doing the right thing.
- Leading change: Charting the course for organization’s stakeholders to navigate a shift in business processes, priorities, roles and expectations.
- Organizational knowledge: Understanding the business issues that are specific to the organization and having empathy for and an awareness of the impact of human capital issues on the organization as a system.
- Persuasiveness/influencing others: The art of using interpersonal skills to convince others to share one’s perspective or way of thinking.
- Results orientation/drive for performance: The ability to link processes and practices to positive outcomes and to demonstrate the value that HR brings to the organization.
- Shaping organizational culture: Creating the values by which an organization operates.
- Strategic thinking: Seeing the big picture, having a long-term line of sight and understanding the interconnectedness of decisions and activities within the various lines of the business.
- Technological savvy: Knowledge of the unique solutions and challenges that new technology will bring to the organization and understanding of how talent management will be affected by a technologically enhanced business environment.
Specific to the United States, the top five competencies senior HR leaders must possess are:
- effective communication;
- strategic thinking;
- HR knowledge;
- integrity; and
- ethical behavior.
Which competencies matter most around the globe? What are the top five most important knowledge, skills, abilities, and other attributes for senior HR leaders? According to this research, across all four countries/regions, the two most highly rated competencies were effective communication and strategic thinking, although the order varied by country/region. Canada, India and the Middle East, and North Africa also shared leading change as one of their top five selected competencies, and the United States, India and the Middle East, and North Africa shared HR knowledge as a top competency. India and the Middle East and North Africa shared all five top-rated competencies, albeit not in the same order of importance, possibly indicating that senior HR professionals face similar demands in those regions.
There were only two senior HR leadership competencies for which there were no differences by country/region in the percentages of HR professionals who selected them as most important: organizational knowledge and flexibility/adaptability.
5 What Senior HR Leaders Need to Know: Perspectives from the United States, Canada, India, the Middle East and North Africa, released March 8, 2010; Society for Human Resource Management, 1800 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314, telephone: 1-800-283-SHRM.
Reposted with permission from Wolters Kluwer.
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