A respected colleague of mine wrote a piece that posed the question, “Are you qualified to be in HR?” This thought provoking article argued that being caring was of essential importance to being an effective HR practitioner. I couldn’t agree more.
The definition of ‘qualified,’ in the context of HR, is a hot debate. On one hand, it can mean formal education paired with a certification and some letters at the end of your name. On the other hand, it can be defined as entirely experiential based — lived, learned, and ‘been in the trenches’ qualified to be in HR.
Whatever side of the fence you reside on, there are some basic qualifications that I think we all can agree on. If ‘caring about people’ is the nucleus of being qualified to be in HR, then what other core qualifications are there to this profession?
- Be Heart Driven
Whether you fell in love with HR or you fell into HR, be absolutely clear on why you’re in it. Because our product & service is people (real, living humans!) and people are sensitive, fickle, and dynamic, it is of the utmost importance that we are heart driven professionals. Being heart driven means choosing HR because it lights you up, you believe in it, and you genuinely love people. HR is the ultimate service industry so if being of service to others drains you – you should get out of HR. Being heart driven is also good for your heart — it will help you live longer.
- Be Empathetic
If caring about people is the essence to being qualified to be in HR, then being empathetic is the behaviour that shows up on the day to day. Great HR people feel with people (note: compassion → I feel for you, empathy → I feel with you) and this act turns up in all areas of our business from candidate and employee experience to departures. Empathy makes human resources human. According to research, empathy (linked closely with emotional intelligence) is of the top three essential skills for leaders today.
- Be Reliable
Being reliable means you do what you say and you G.S.D. From basic follow through with employees and candidates to advising on ethical matters, HR has got to be the Moral Compass for the organization. Reliability means “consist and dependable” and it’s exactly the type of behaviour you should expect from your HR leader. As cited earlier, people are fickle, sensitive, and dynamic so the person leading your People programs should have a consistent and dependable nature.
- Be Helpful
If I could predict a trend for 2016 it’d be this: HR is going to be helpful this year. This is our new value proposition. To truly make an impact on people, culture, and strategy it starts with pledging helpfulness. Helpfulness is about focusing on being effective, over efficient. It’s taking the human into consideration and striving for authenticity and genuine interactions with candidates, employees, and people in general. Helpfulness is about becoming the bridge, connecting people and services, people and knowledge, or people and people. Helpfulness is the edge that can turn the business of HR around.
If HR’s #1 philosophy were to be helpfulness, what kind of change would we see?
Your career in HR will be what you make of it, as will be your brand as a HR person. Even if I wiped the board of my other four attributes, if I could be known as a caring, then I’d say I’d be doing a pretty good job.
What other essential attributes would you add to this list?