What make you a great HR leader

June 26, 2017

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There is no denying that Human Resources is evolving at a rapid pace. These days, HR professionals are more involved with strategic business functions. In short, they are now a core part of any company just as sales, operations, and finance workers.

The only downside to these added extras in one’s job description as an HR leader is that you have a lot more work to do! At the same time, you still have to know the fundamentals of running a Human Resources team and keep it running like a well-oiled machine.

But, you also have a broad range of extra duties and responsibilities to carry out as part of your work! In essence, your job isn’t much like what you’d expect a “traditional” HR leader and professional to be. Nowadays, you have to be a strategist and have more accountability, whether you like it or not!

Despite these extra challenges facing virtually all modern-day HR leaders, the good news is that it Is possible to be not just a good leader, but a GREAT one. Here is how to do that:


Make sure your strategies align with business objectives

The thing about HR today is that it’s a department that is more closely integrated with the day to day operations of a company. HR leaders must accept that the acquisition, retention, and development of employees must align with a firm’s core objectives.

Your HR department must evolve along with the unique needs and changes of the business. Trying to do things the “old fashioned way” simply doesn’t work in a modern business anymore.

The top HR leaders also realise that they must make communication with other stakeholders in the business a priority. Human Resources isn’t a department that works as a separate entity from the rest of the firm; it must work in harmony with it.

With that in mind, the difference between great and other HR managers is they regularly review what they do with their own leaders. Doing so ensures that their efforts aren’t in vain, nor will they have to worry about doing something that’s at loggerheads with what the company as a whole actually wants to achieve.

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So, just how do HR leaders ensure that their strategies align with the overall business objectives? Well, it turns out there are three fundamental things you need to do:


  1. Ensure you understand metrics and the short/long-term goals of your business

Having a grasp on how you actually measure things is key to talent acquisition and workforce planning.

For instance, let’s say that your company’s goal is to become an industry leader in providing recruitment services to other businesses. You will need to have metrics that include a strict candidate screening process, ongoing employee background checks that provide an alert to any changes, and skills and qualifications checks.

By understanding your metrics (i.e. which ones you need to use and why you need to use them), you can better align your department’s strategies with the goals of the business.


  1. Be flexible

Sometimes potential new recruits might have criminal records flagged up in their background checks. Or, you can’t verify their qualifications with the relevant educational bodies that they studied with.

If a candidate is otherwise a good match for a job and has a good culture fit, you should balance transparency and discretion in such circumstances. In other words, it makes sense to give the person an opportunity to explain any discrepancies, as it  could be down to simple clerical mistakes, for example.

The last thing you want to do is take away the chance to hire someone that is crucial to meeting business objectives because of a clerical error with their application.


  1. Be open to change

HR is evolving faster than ever. It must do so to ensure the business can meet its objectives, and so that usually means having to sometimes change how you do things.

If you’re someone that isn’t happy to change how things need to be done to support the business’s vision, you will be left behind. Take Virgin Media as an example, HR Department was assigned to be a part of the sales and marketing team to generate $7 Billion dollars in revenue from 150,000 applicants.

The question is, do you see your HR Department align with the business’s mission and vision and be ready to be a change manager?


Act like a leader, not a follower

When you have “orders from above”, are you someone that just follows them blindly, or do you qualify what is being asked of you?

As an HR leader, you are an expert on people. CEOs and senior managers might have a new goal or strategy they wish to achieve, but how does it fit in with the HR department? It’s important to give management your perspective on all matters related to Human Resources, as you have the power to guide how they execute their goals from a personnel perspective.

While you may have the desire to appease your senior managers, it’s important that you build a strong case if you feel that what they want could jeopardise the overall business goals.

According to the expert:

Dr.Zivit Inbar

The most challenging task for HR leaders is to educate the market on the concept of Human Resources.
Especially in Startups, they see HR as a transactional role. The real HR is about talent management and development. It is not about performance reviews or policies, but it is about building the right culture that facilitates growth.
People should think about where the business is heading and then tie up the strategy with talent management - also meaning to reduce bureaucracy and lean.
Over the years, I see some pitfalls that Startup is facing: HR focuses too much on  policies and procedures. What they need to focus on is how to grow the business and employees. HR leader should invest in automation and minimise the manual admin tasks as much as possible so HR departments can focus on more important task such as: measuring employee engagement and wellbeing and more. 


Have a thirst for knowledge

Let’s face it; the only way you are going to be excellent at your job is if you actually know how to do it properly!

As you can appreciate, knowledge and education are vital to managing a successful Human Resources department. Whoever said that you “can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is lying! There’s always something new to learn about HR, and there’s always new, more efficient ways of carrying out certain tasks.

You should take the time to keep up-to-date on the latest changes shaping your sector so that your team is as efficient and productive as possible. Do not be afraid to leverage technology to improve HR service delivery and analytics.

So much of the focus for HR professionals in 2018 will be on simplifying and optimising processes, systems and technology to deliver a more efficient and effective HR service. This comes down to unifying streamlined processes and a good automation strategy. We found that organisations that were successful at this had implemented a roadmap and the data architecture to deliver those HR services

Police Checks platform for HR

Be more engaged with colleagues in other departments

Part of the way to building successful strategies that align with your core business goals is to know more about the pieces that make up the puzzle, as it were. Each employee at your company isn’t just a resource; they are all assets.

Be sure to learn more about where they fit within the organisation and how your department can help them to achieve key business goals more efficiently. For example, if you take a tour of each department, you might find that the training offered to employees isn’t sufficient enough to deal with a broad range of challenges.


Kelly Dang

Kelly Dang

Marketing Executive at InterCheck and board member at the Digital Women's Network.

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