Where is the field of human resources (HR) going? “The future of HR is curious, determined, innovative and disruptive,” says Jennifer McClure, speaking at the 2016 Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM’s) Annual Conference and Exposition in Washington, D.C. In her June 21 mega-session, McClure urged HR professionals to evolve if they are to thrive in the business environment that lies ahead.
McClure is president of Unbridled Talent LLC, an HR consulting and advisory firm. She believes that HR leaders who master four competencies will deliver more value and drive greater executive support within the organization:
- Know the business;
- Think strategically;
- Solve problems; and
- Take risks.
Ultimately, McClure says, improving your capabilities as an HR professional can help align personnel strategies with organizational objectives. You are not an HR leader; rather, you are a business leader who works in HR.
Know the Business
Gain a fundamental understanding of your business’ needs and the data required to assess those needs, McClure says. For example, if you’re HR director for a hospital, you must understand the demographics of the patients you serve, the medical specialties that address their needs, and how to attract employees who fit the culture and purpose of your organization. Your grasp of this big picture, as well as the details it comprises, makes HR a valuable strategic partner in the hospital’s leadership.
Worry less about having a seat at the table and more about what you can contribute to the company, McClure says. “How can we make HR a strategic business partner? Stop focusing on HR issues. Start focusing on business issues. You have to solve the biggest problems in the business; if you don’t, nothing else matters.” This is a tall order, certainly. “Courage and influence are critical.”
Business leaders want results. Make process improvements, demonstrate cost savings, boost morale, increase productivity — identify difficulties in your domain and apply remedies.
Show corporate leaders that you’re not afraid of challenge. Try new ways of doing things. Study HR practices used in other organizations and explore their application in your company. Demonstrate a dynamic management style, rather than complacence with the status quo.
McClure then provided five tips to help develop career agility:
- Shift your thinking – Think of yourself as more than an HR leader
- Feed your brain – Seek out learning opportunities
- Find your tribe – Connect with those who share your values and aspirations
- Focus on impact – Setting lofty goals is one thing, but can you deliver?
- Step out – Expand your knowledge, direct a project, make a presentation, apply for a promotion
By stretching your skills and capabilities, thinking tactically and focusing on results, you’ll evolve into the HR professional the future requires.
Image Credit: Lisa Fleming