What competencies are most important for HR executives?

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What competencies do you consider most important for HR executives, and why?

Bersin: Courage, curiosity and confidence. Courage is needed because there are so many new approaches to consider, we need HR leaders to push ahead with innovative solutions and make sure business leaders are engaged in the employee experience, change and culture strategies companies need. Curiosity is needed because there are so many new ways to rethink HR, use technology and consider new models of work and organization design–HR teams should experiment and explore what is working for others. Confidence is needed because we have to push ahead with new technologies and new models and have confidence in our IT, designers, L&D experts and other specialists so we let them innovate and create new solutions. And we in HR must be the “positive thinkers” in the company, oftentimes helping senior leaders implement or execute on difficult and risky solutions.

Burke: Having a fundamental understanding of human personality and behavior, in general, and of motivation, in particular. Effective decisions regarding selection, development and performance of employees, especially those in management and leadership positions, are dependent on their knowledge and its application. Moreover, this expertise must be evidenced-based rather than determined by one’s intuition and “gut feel.” As we know, jobs and roles in the workplace are no longer as simple as finding the purchased product in a large warehouse and shipping it to the customer. A robot can do that faster and cheaper. The newer job is gathering and analyzing data based on the most recent year’s history of sales for that product and other related products that the customer has purchased. And then to suggest new promotional ideas. Putting the right human skills together with the needs of such jobs is the work of HR. Job/role and person match is critical for employee motivation.

Goldsmith: HR execs must always be business leaders and, going forward, I think there will be an increased emphasis on:

  1. A With profound change taking place in every aspect of business and society, it’s more important than ever that HR executives (and all leaders) are able to nimbly adjust–personally, strategically and operationally.
  2. Proactive curiosity. This goes hand-in-glove with agility. In dynamic times, we need to be in a hyper-learning mode, embracing innovation and leveraging technology to grow our businesses.
  3. Listening with empathy. This isn’t a new one, but I believe it’s one of the most critical competencies for all leaders, and it seems to be a dwindling art in the age of tiny attention spans. It’s where we learn and how we connect.

Spriggs: The most important competencies for successful CHROs of the future will continue to evolve beyond culture and talent to focus more on the application of technology, analytics, financial acumen and the ability to fully understand the profit and loss requirements of a successful business strategy. Embracing the value of diversity and cultural awareness will be a major contributor to business vitality. Mindfulness, empathy and a clear understanding of legal and risk-management issues will be necessary to protect the reputation and integrity of the enterprise and build “followership.”

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McGuiness: As a former leader of a public-policy organization focused on human resources, (I’ve seen that) chief human resource officers must spend as much time looking externally as internally. Virtually every aspect of HR is regulated, often by several agencies, each with its own take. Those regulatory policies are driven by the political process with social media now its accelerant. The practice of HR requires a grounding in these factors and influences.

Continue: What are the most effective ways to integrate HR tech? ‡’

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Elizabeth Clarke
Elizabeth Clarke is executive editor of Human Resource Executive. She earned a journalism degree from the University of Florida and then spent more than 25 years as a reporter and editor in South Florida before joining HRE. Elizabeth lives with her family in Palm Beach County. She can be reached at [email protected].