You can have a great career in HR if you have the right skills and attributes. Here I give what I consider to be the seven keys to success in HR.
How I Know the 7 Keys to Success
Simple really I have had a career of over 30 years in HR across the retail, manufacturing and hospitality sectors. So I have seen a lot of people succeed and a lot of people fail. In addition as an Executive Coach I work with clients in HR across many companies.
I accept that what follows is a very personal view. But if you ask people outside the HR function and many of those in it these points will keep cropping up.
The 7 Keys to Success in HR
- Understand People; it is important to have a desire to understand why people behave in the way they do. It is also important to want to understand what motivates people. It’s not only in HR that you need to like working with people – most jobs need that. In fact in HR you will be involved in a lot of tough people decisions – dismissal, redundancy, who gets a job or a promotion etc. So you need to be able to handle some highly charged emotional situations.
- Understand Your Business; make sure you go and do what your front line operations people do. Find out what the job is like, its problems and difficulties. For example when I worked in Ford I learned how to build an engine piece by piece and how to run a production line before I went into HR. In my hospitality career I managed a business for 4 weeks. These experiences gave me some quick credibility because I understood the business. I was also able to talk knowledgeably about the P&L – again very helpful. There are many so called professional HR people who have never been near the frontline and really have no idea what the jobs are like. I also meet HR people who have no idea about the P&L for their organisation. In my view if you do not understand the business you simply get side lined by the people to who you provide a service – what’s worse is you may never know how they really see you.
- Build Strong Relationships; in HR you get things done by influencing people to do things in a particular way. It’s rare you can instruct someone. In order to influence people you need to build strong relationships.
- Deliver What You Promise; always deliver what you promise on time every time this will build your reputation and respect for your professional approach. HR people sometimes make the mistake of giving over optimistic delivery promises in an effort to please. This is a disaster if you do not deliver on time.
- Don’t Hide Behind Policies; make sure you can explain the reason why there is a given policy. I have heard some HR people simply say ‘well that’s our policy’. This really annoys other managers who are trying to resolve an issue. If the policy doesn’t work well make sure you change it or get rid of it totally.
- Be Assertive; people respect those that speak up in the right way. Don’t ever be tempted to say nothing in order to have a quiet life.
- Communication; nearly everything you do in HR requires great communication. This could be speaking to individuals or large groups. It could also be in relation to written documents. So work on continually building your communication skills.
If this list describes you it is highly likely that you will have a very successful career in HR.
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