Strengthen Your Nontraditional HR Skills
HR is changing, and organizations are discovering new needs, new functions, and new responsibilities in this field—not that anyone rightly thought it was a field of lessening relevance (though it is sometimes notably and popularly decried). The data revolution, HR’s increased role as strategic business partner, and a fresh emphasis on improving workplace culture have amounted to new opportunities, new responsibilities, and new career arcs for HR professionals. Leaders in Federal agencies and non-Federal organizations alike, in endeavoring to build the workforce of the future, see HR skills as instrumental. But what new or “outside” skills, in additional to traditional HR functions, must professionals seek to acquire or strengthen?
In ways new and old, today’s savvy HR professional is:
- Indispensable to strategic decision-making
- Well-versed in data analytics
- Skilled in employee coaching, mentoring, and retention
- Rededicated to customer engagement
And that short list just scratches the surface. HR is a field that, because the emphasis on human in human resources will never diminish, cannot be overexplored in the classroom, no matter how rigorous the training.
Facing New Challenges, Working Inside Your Sphere of Influence
Potentially fundamental to new or re-envisioned careers in HR is the notion of sphere of influence, a concept that’s crucial to leaders and non-leaders, managers and non-managers, who might seize (or invent) opportunities amid today’s private and public sector challenges. Understanding your sphere of influence means knowing when, how, where, and with whom you can affect change. When helping organizations drive or navigate change, the self-aware, scrupulous, and ambitious HR professional functions in an expanded sphere of actionability. By practicing accountability, adaptability, and resilience, they take a people-centric point of view with overall organizational mindfulness, creating or applying their influence wherever needed.
Millennials: HR’s Future Biggest Fans
One of HR’s biggest challenges rests in how it will attract, adapt to, and support a workforce that, in 2020, is expected to be a majority millennial population. In step with research, myriad (mis)conceptions, and general fearmongering surrounding millennials, it’s clear that HR must be ready and willing to incorporate a new focus on traditional as well as non-traditional HR functions. Empathetic, socially mindful, two-way communication is imperative to integrating new technological practices amid changing industries and work environments—an entire generation of workers won’t fail, and HR is instrumental to their success.
Business Impact: The Next Generation of HR, Today
It’s increasingly clear, as younger generations fill out the workforce with new and innovative ideas (and the wisdom of older generations needs to be captured and supported), effective, influential, and multi-talented HR teams are critical to business. Dave Ulrich, in his 2012 book, HR from the Outside In: Six Competencies for the Future of Human Resources, calls for accountable, resilient, strategic, innovative (and integrative) HR professionals who embrace technology and endear themselves to employee, customer, and business development. Writing for Personnel Today, Ulrich pumps his fist in support of the field: “It is a great time to be in HR because the future holds not only a promise, but a pathway to business impact.”
Ulrich’s writing and research is not cutting edge, and yet his enthusiasm still resonates. The HR personnel of the future workforce experience a rare climate of sustained relevance—the career potential is refreshed and expanded, the new opportunities are good (and depending on your role, so is the pay), and industries are ready for innovators wherever they can find them. Whether in the Federal or non-Federal sphere, expanded skillsets for individuals in HR can catalyze culture change, better business, and new opportunities for your own advancement.