If you’re considering a career in human resources leadership, there are some important things you’ll want to keep in mind to set yourself up for success. For one thing, HR leadership goes beyond administrative tasks: Success in this field requires a strong understanding of people and organizational dynamics.
To help aspiring leaders in the industry, the members of Forbes Human Resources Council discuss their tried-and-true insights from their years of career experience. Below are their top 20 tips for those considering the HR leadership job track.
1. Brush Up On Your Soft Skills
Leading in HR is all about making real connections with workers and understanding how their needs fit into where a business is heading. Therefore, emotional intelligence and strong communication skills are crucial to being successful. Particularly in a hybrid world of work, professional coaching can be a great way to brush up on these important soft skills before making the leap into the HR field. – John Morgan, LHH
2. Learn How To Mediate Conflicts
Being a “people person” doesn’t necessarily translate to success in the HR field. HR professionals constantly field complaints and are expected to resolve conflicts. Strong interpersonal skills are key to successfully acting as a mediator and sounding board. You must also be skilled at processing information without becoming frustrated, disillusioned or internalizing workplace negativity. – Teresa Martins, Madison Logic
3. Be A Business Partner And An Employee Resource
It is critical to strike a balance between being a business partner who helps advance people strategies and continuing to be a “resource” for employees. There can be tension between the two, given today’s high-paced business demands. But, if an HR leader is seen as an extension of upper management, it can set the tone for distrust of HR, which can increase risk and undermine business initiatives. – Natalie Norfus, The Norfus Firm, PLLC
4. Consider A Career In Compensation
If you enjoy analyzing data and managing the largest expense in any organization, then I would suggest considering a career in compensation. It is one of the highest-paid functional areas in human resources and in the most demand. Conducting job analysis, job evaluation and market analysis and developing compensation plans is a highly marketable skill set. – David Weaver, Compensation and HR Group
5. Master The Art Of Balance
Mastering the art of balancing data, business acumen and strategic thinking with emotional intelligence, humility and human behavior. Balance processes, guidelines and requirements with employee engagement, experiences and feelings. Balance creating an organizational focus and making tough decisions with being an employee advocate and developing people managers. Finally, choose wisely which to pick when. – Gonca Icoren, Energy Vault Inc
6. Reflect On Your Role
HR is a highly rewarding field where leaders can witness the impact of their work every day. To know if they are on the right path, aspiring HR leaders should reflect on what role they play on their team. Do they find themselves regularly encouraging growth, inspiring collaboration and resolving conflict within their team? If so, that could indicate a strong capacity to succeed as an HR leader. – Niki Jorgensen, Insperity
7. Stay Agile
HR leadership is a challenging yet rewarding career. To succeed, one needs technical expertise, people skills and a strategic mindset. Building strong relationships, fostering a culture of innovation and prioritizing diversity and inclusion are key. HR leaders can shape the future of work. Work as we know it is changing faster than ever, and the most agile and dynamic leaders will rise to the top. – William Stonehouse, Crawford Thomas Recruiting
8. Cultivate Communication Skills
Cultivate strong interpersonal and communication skills. As an HR leader, your ability to listen empathetically, resolve conflicts and effectively communicate with employees and stakeholders across the entire organization will be paramount to your success in fostering positive work environments and driving organizational growth. – Ahva Sadeghi, Symba
9. Be A Business Leader Of People
With the shift from process-driven to human-centric organizations and Boards of Directors immersing themselves into the business of people, there is no better time than now to be a strategic leader accountable for people. A fast path to being a top-notch CPO or CHRO is to be a business person first: demonstrate financial acumen and data literacy, lead change and be a partner to the CEO. – Laci Loew, XpertHR (a division of LexisNexis)
10. Invest In Your Development
Invest in your own development and find a mentor. Human Resources professionals, especially generalists, manage a lot already, so leading others requires you to be the best version of yourself. You need to know your leadership style and have an innate desire to understand how that affects those you lead in order to bring out the best in them. Mentors will give you the support you need in the “struggle” moments. – Tiersa Smith-Hall, Impactful Imprints, Training & Consulting
11. Develop Emotional Intelligence
One of the most valuable traits for an HR leader is being able to communicate well at all levels within the organization. This includes being equally comfortable in the boardroom and talking to field-level employees. The second most valuable trait is helping to drive strategy and clearly articulate that to employees to gain their trust and buy-in. Developing your emotional intelligence will take you a long way in HR leadership. – Hazel Kassu, Sudduth Search
12. Embrace Technology And Inclusivity
Embrace technology by redefining HR as a proactive talent experience creator, using AI-empowered tools to propel talent strategies forward. Cherish diversity and desire to cultivate inclusivity in the workplace. Finally, you have to have a love for working with people from all walks of life. If you genuinely enjoy helping, then a career in Human Resources could be the perfect fit for you! – Jess Elmquist, Phenom
13. Practice Expansive Listening
Expansive listening is critical when considering a career in Human Resources leadership. This means listening first, assessing the data and relying on socializing cross-functionally to understand the impact of the initiative across the organization. Oftentimes, leaders stay in their silos, but without expansive listening, the success of HR programs and initiatives will not drive outcomes. – Cat Colella-Graham,
14. Bring Humanity Into Business Objectives
HR leadership requires a desire to understand people on a human level. This understanding, and the value it brings, should be incorporated into business operations and objectives. Excellent communication, empathy and the ability to problem-solve to achieve business goals, while simultaneously building relationships, are all professional qualities HR leaders should cultivate within their careers. – Laura Spawn, Virtual Vocations, Inc.
15. Be A Problem-Solver And Advocate
Focus on developing strong communication and interpersonal skills. HR leaders need to be able to effectively communicate with employees at all levels and to build strong relationships with colleagues and stakeholders. Additionally, stay up-to-date with industry trends and technology, and be adaptable to change. Finally, be a problem-solver and an advocate for both the company and its employees. – Joseph Soares, IBPROM Corp.
16. Talk To Seasoned Professionals
If you’re considering HR as a profession, I strongly suggest reaching out to a few seasoned professionals to ask what the job is truly like. Then when entering the field, try to get into an organization large enough to have some type of HR department. This will give you the opportunity to work in different aspects of HR and to learn from and be mentored by experienced HR pros. – Lisa Shuster, iHire
17. Immerse Yourself In Data
My best advice for those considering a leadership role is simple: immerse yourself in data. If your people data is limited, consider prioritizing what best-practice metrics you do have that support your operating model and evolve from there. If there are many that exist, consider layering them to form lead measures (overlag) for higher operational ROI (such as top talent high-risk of loss versus top talent exists). – Dr. Timothy J. Giardino, BMC Software
18. Practice Developing Your Point Of View
Practice developing a point of view on a broad organizational topic. This is more than having an opinion. It is about developing a thesis, evaluating data, testing with trusted advisors and advocating a course of action, along with a readiness to debate, defend or amend your proposal based on new information. It’s the rigor and inclusive nature of this process that helps develop good leadership. – Paul Whitney, Sysdig
19. Support Your Junior Employees
HR managers help define and drive the employee experience. The biggest challenge comes down to them feeling ill-equipped and inadequately supported by senior leaders to be effective at their job. Senior leaders should be taking steps to strengthen HR managers by having frequent one-to-one conversations and helping develop their hard and soft skills in conflict resolution, coaching and leadership. – Jamie Aitken, Betterworks
20. Remember The ‘Why’
Human Resources is and will always be one of the most challenging positions ever, but it’s also the most rewarding career path. You will fill others’ hearts with the joy of being able to support their families. You will help employees manage through the tough times at work, along with being their counselor at times. You get that pride! That is what drives me. – Melissa Bolton, Precision Walls Inc.
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Original article here.