By | Carla Adams
Although this topic is hotly debated, that what are the types of skills that the human resources people need? You can find thousands of articles on the internet that discuss the top ten skills needed by human resources professionals or the top five or even top twenty. However, in this article we will discuss the number one skill needed by human resources professionals at any point in their career.
According to Forbes, Empathy, Coaching, Empowerment and Active listening tops the list of 14 skills needed by HR professionals and communication at 13. But you can see that these top 4 skills also are glazed with communication skills in their backdrop.
It does not matter whether you have just started your journey as an HR professional and you are into your first year as an HR associate in some firm. You have a strong academic background such as a bachelors or masters in human resources management and a professional human resources certification to boast. Yet one of the major skills that will determine your career trajectory and ensure that you rocket to the top spot is: communication.
In a research conducted by remote.com in 2023, they found out that almost 65% of employers are now hiring people based on their skills alone and academic qualification has taken a step backwards.
Yes, even though this word is thrown around so casually in corporate settings and is an overused mantra by all the motivational speakers and authors. Let me explain to you why it matters in each stage or phase of your HR career ladder, from the bottom-rung to the top.
Communication in the early stages of the HR career
Imagine your first day in the human resources department where – let’s assume ten other HR people – are working, you are tasked with getting to know the department and the organization. You are introduced to the managers and an orientation delivered. However, your manager or the top gun in the HR department is keen on knowing how well you can handle inter-departmental communications as well as managing the communication with outside or external parties.
Remember when I say communication here, it means how well you coordinate with people, do people take an instant liking to you, do you have that open and cheerful outlook that people feel comfortable talking to you about not only your company, the HR department but also yourself? Do they perceive you as a helper or a threat? Do they feel happy to see you or change paths when they see you? If you are to set yourself up as a successful human resources professional in your life you have to ensure that people feel genuinely happy to see you. Only then they will open up to you and speak about their genuine problems. HR leaders know and understand that those kind of HR resources in their departments are the real gems that make the HR work, since HR is exactly that human resource, and you have to ensure that your resources are motivated and ready to fire. This results in direct KPI’s of the human resources department, such as the image of the department, retention of employees, attraction of future employees due to word of mouth spreading about a great culture (which obviously is led by the human resources department) and most importantly compliance. Many times, this author has seen that people are reluctant when new policies or procedures are put in place, but when a trusted resource from the HR department convinces these same people they are ready to comply. These are just some of the examples of how good communication skills within a corporation
can take you far. Finally at this stage the employee from the HR department who is popular and well-liked by employees is always the first contender for a promotion.
Communication in the middle stages of the HR career
Once you reach the positions of assistant manager or are into your second half decade of human resources career. It becomes imperative that you have a strong bonding with people across all the functions of the organization. You should be well equipped with all the conflict management and high-level communication skills to manage situations where your contribution as a mediator and manager both are accounted for and valued by your heads and the top brass. A lot of online HR courses are focused on communication specifically. Because of this numerous organizations are now getting their HR professionals certified in this specific niche topic. Although the course is the need of hour but having just a communication course wouldn’t be enough. Instead, a comprehensive course that focuses on this area within the HR scope can be a better choice. A leading HR certification body, HRAcademia has incorporated this key skill in their curriculum to save time and cost for professionals looking to update their HR skills with focus on communication. Unlike other companies, HRAcademia offers non expiry and online courses with constantly updating curriculum to match the current challenges faced by HR professionals. Although passing their exam is not an easy task, however their course has proven to be effective when it comes to key areas of HR such as communication.
Some of the key areas where your communication skills play a vital role is to hold the HR team together, secondly your communication skills need to reflect the ideology of the company and the spirit of going to the ends together. This all should come together in one place. Finally, this is also the time when you are vying for a top position in the HR department to either become a functional manager such as manager talent acquisition, manager training and development, manager rewards and benefits etc. Your communication skills and the level of comfort and ease with which you can rally the troops around – since this all hinges on how well people feel connected (read communicated) with you. This one single skill can be the deciding factor in getting the managerial role or not.
Communication in the later or at the pinnacle of HR career
At this point in your career, you have mastered the art of managing people, handling tough assignments, executing complex projects – this is around your seventh to ten years frame – you have updated your degree, if it was not already at least a Masters in HRM, you have a couple of professional human resources certifications and those too that are globally recognized HR certifications. You are a people’s champion and because of your communication skills that transfer directly into your people’s skills everyone wants you to be the top guy in human resources. The management and the staff are at a strong comfort level with you and feel that you can sort their problems and be a solution to most of the problems they face in terms of the human resources. Here again you can see that the entire concept of your growth hinges on how well you communicate with the staff and the upper management. When you know how to create a balance between people’s needs and the management’s requirements, that is the day you become a true HR professional and that only happens if you are sharp at communication.
Now having said all this, I am not saying that you should be a clown who goes around making people laugh or someone who is not at their desk all day and is seen chatting needlessly with staff. No! HR people have to be super dignified, but good communication requires that you be polite but firm, nice but fair, you have to make people meet in the middle so that people earn your respect. Rudeness, impoliteness and being biased are some of the most poisonous traits that HR people can have. Your journey to being a great communicator should begin with being a nice, always available and transparent HR professional with no personal preferences or agenda.