Last month we asked “What do you really want from HR”? This month we examine a recent SHRM survey that generated the report, “2008 Managing Your HR Career Survey.” The key findings should come as no surprise:
- The most important factor in HR success is the ability to communicate. The HR executive is often viewed as the point person between the executives and the rank and file. Interpersonal communication skills are essential when it comes to leading strategic initiatives, as well as avoiding employee drama.
- Having driving ambition was cited as the second most important factor (61%). In the real world, many HR people aren’t highly motivated or ambitious, partly because they don’t feel they will have upper-level support or get paid for making a difference. One of the greatest challenges for business owners and executives is to light a fire under the HR department.
- The third tier of importance includes reputation in the organization, strategic/critical thinking skills, experience, and leadership skills. Of course, the most important aspect of your reputation is the ability to be trusted because you have the skills and character that people can trust. Strategic or critical thinking skills are also important whether you’re at a workforce with 1,000 employees or only 25, and you’re wearing three hats, one of which is HR. HR That Works users are encouraged to look at the Strategic HR Tools portion of the Web site. Of course, experience is only important if it produces results. Ask yourself: What have you done differently over the last week to improve your HR career or department? What result has it generated?
- Finally, there’s the general concept of leadership. In our experience, most owners and executives want HR folks to grab the bull by the horns. Don’t wait to be told what to do, just start doing it! Our favorite example of an HR executive with tremendous leadership skills is Colleen Barrett, the CEO of Southwest Airlines.
The HR field offers enormous opportunity. This is the least developed aspect of many organizations and has been gaining professional status during the last 10 years. We encourage every HR executive to really go for it — and make sure you have fun and get paid in the process!