What It Takes to Be a Global HR Leader

In a few weeks, some of the smartest thinkers and HR leaders will come together at UNLEASH America in Las Vegas. I’ve worked with HR teams and senior leaders at organizations around the world, and I’ve seen HR as a function completely transform over the past few years. HR is much more sophisticated and complex than when I first got involved. In 2018, running an HR organization takes a global perspective, a deep understanding of how technology is changing our work, broad experience in many different corporate functions and a focus on people.

A Global Perspective

In my mind, there’s no question — HR leaders need global experience. The best HR people I’ve met come from global backgrounds. That’s because most HR departments are no longer hubs of administrative work. Instead, the HR department has transformed into the talent department, and talent leaders need to know how to work with many different people, potentially spread over different continents.

A Deep Understanding of How Tech Is Changing Work

We’re living in a world of continuous change, and it’s essential that HR has a place in that. HR’s new role, along with culture and happiness, is future-proofing businesses. That means understanding the massive industrial change that’s coming.

We’re in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution. The biggest taxi company in the world is Uber, and it owns no taxis. The biggest real estate company in the world is Airbnb, and it owns no real estate. We see disruption coming through these exponential technologies. HR has to stay very connected to what those exponential technologies are doing to the marketplace.

That will mean re-skilling the workforce. Presently, we’re kind of sleepwalking into disaster: Gallup released a report earlier this year revealing that 77 percent of Americans aren’t worried about losing their jobs to automation. So we need some serious education.

I talk to CHROs who are re-skilling thousands of people. They know their jobs will be gone in five years. I think it’s our responsibility to act now.

Broad Business Experience

I know many smart, savvy HR professionals who have always worked in HR. But I also know a lot incredibly effective HR leaders who worked all throughout organizations — operations, finance, sales, executive leadership — before they landed in HR.

Let me put it this way: The best way to get experience as an HR leader isn’t to take more courses and work on more formal certifications. It’s to get out there in the business, talk to more people and get a better understanding of how different departments work.

Today’s HR leader needs a broad understanding of how a business works, and how business decisions affect people.

They need to know how use HR technology to analyze employee data and create real-time reporting for leadership. They need to be able to use technology to read the pulse of the organization.

A Focus on People

Finally, HR people need to be — it seems crazy to even have to say this — good with people. We’re living in a world where most people are unhappy at work. Americans are working 80 hours a week for the American dream. Employees are looking for a better experience. Only HR representatives who understand people and care deeply about making work better can really make an impact.

Historically, HR would come into a workforce and immediately treat everyone like kids. “You get a 4 out of 5 on your performance review. You were a good boy or girl, so you get a bonus of 1%.”

At so many organizations, work is still a place where people are trapped in the chains of bureaucracy and endless administration. We’re trying to unleash people from all of that.

To continue the conversation about the big changes coming to HR, book your spot at UNLEASH America at the Aria Resort in Las Vegas, May 15-16, 2018. You’ll hear from speakers including:

Register here.