Continued Success in HR More Than Just Management

While the country is moving forward with much change anticipated in the future of businesses, there are HR management practices that must be implemented for organizations to experience continued success. These practices will require HR managers to:
• Be proactive, flexible and prepared
• Be equipped to effectively, legally and accurately apply HR skills
• Integrate diversity
• Apply business acumen
• Demonstrate ethical behavior
When the typical business leader thinks of HR, the thoughts likely surround issues such as recruitment, selection, managing performance, training and development, labor relations, compensation, benefits, risk management, and employment legislation. However, there are several areas in which the successful HR business leader must be equipped and prepared for the future of business strategy practices.

Proactivity, Flexibility, and Preparedness
While business leaders know change is inevitable, too frequently HR practices are reactive in nature. It is imperative HR leaders stay abreast of employment legislation updates, economic changes, skill gaps and demands, and other critical business drivers that impact decisions in the HR field. Further, it is imperative HR leaders are fully equipped with the necessary skills and abilities to accurately apply business decisions and practices that support not only the missions of the organizations in which they work but also accurately apply relevant legislation. Example, did your organization arbitrarily reclassify its employees to comply with the FLSA update? Or, did your team, utilizing its HR skills, review all job descriptions, reporting relationships and salary requirements before simply deciding a position was no longer exempt (to avoid the mandatory increase in compensation)?

Diversity Integration
Oftentimes business leaders, when addressing diversity, limit themselves to thinking about issues surrounding surface level diversity. These are issues related to areas we can physically observe such as gender, age, race, and so forth. Additional areas that must be proactively addressed are those related to deeper-level diversity issues such as ways of thinking, making decisions, communicating, and problem-solving.

Ways to address these various areas that make each of your employees different may include the following:
Establish and implement policies and practices that abide by all EEO legislation.

Create and support an organizational culture through policies and practices that values the ideas and input of others.

Identify individuals who have the desire and skills to champion diversity within teams and departments.

Application of Business Acumen
While HR leaders need to bring their knowledge and skills related to the critical HR functions of an organization to the table, they must also possess a sufficient level of business acumen. In other words, not only must HR professionals have excellent functional HR expertise, interpersonal communication and team skills, they must be fully able to effectively contribute to the organization’s success through the application of business acumen. This specifically refers to the need for HR leaders to fully understand how the organization both makes money as well as how the HR function impacts its financial performance. This understanding requires a sufficient proficiency in cost analysis, business strategy, financial skills and, ultimately, organizational assessment.

Ethical Behavior
While understanding the difference between right and wrong is the first step of applying ethics to decision making in business, HR business leaders are responsible for developing the organization’s code of ethics and ensuring all employees have been trained and are prepared to align with these expectations. Further, these professionals have the responsibility for providing a way for employees to voice concerns, monitor the behavior of individuals within the organization, maintain confidential employee information, and interpret and apply any applicable employment legislation. The ethical behavior of employees directly impacts the success of the organization.

In conclusion, as businesses prepare for the impending changes in the New Year they must focus on developing future HR leaders to manage this vital business function. Being proactive, equipped with HR expertise and an ability to integrate diversity in their workplaces is essential. Ultimately, HR leaders who exhibit ethical behavior while applying business acumen are on the path to assist their organizations in achieving a competitive advantage in the marketplace!

By Colleen McLaughlin,