15 Keys to Human Resources Professionals Being Successful

By University of Arkansas Grantham April 19, 2012

Human Resource Management professionals are often responsible for overseeing a company's culture and leadership. But they do much more than that.

They also play an integral role in the training, assessment and rewarding of employees, in addition to ensuring the organization remains compliant with employment and labor laws.

Have you thought about an online degree in Human Resource Management? In order to move up the chain of command, professionals should know the ins and outs of what it takes to survive in the competitive and ever-changing world of HR.

Grantham University hosted a Webinar on how to overcome the primary challenges faced by HR professionals.

Here are 15 keys to human resources professionals being successful:

1. Integrity

"Integrity is something that you only lose once, so you want to be careful," Grantham University Vice President of Human Resources Kip Esry said in a March 2 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) professional development event. "Do what you say you're going to do."

2. Effective communication

"It's amazing how many really bright HR people develop great programs," Esry said. "But where the program falls on its face is communication ... A factor that you should always consider is, 'How are we going to communicate this? What's the sequence? Are we going to communicate it to top management first, and then line managers, and then employees? Is it going to be one-on-one, in a group, in a newsletter?'"

3. Influencing others

"What you have to be able to do in this role, a competency that is pretty much required at the senior level, is be able to influence other people," Esry said.

4. Constantly seek to learn

You don't have to know everything, but becoming familiar with all departments of the organization will only be to your benefit and make your daily tasks and interactions go by more smoothly.

5. Know how to balance consistency with customization

"There is no answer that always exists," Esry said. "It depends on the situation. So you have to look at a situation and you have to know when it's important that you don't deviate. You can't customize one approach (that will always suit) another."

6. Linkage to business goals

HR professionals should support the organization's mission and business goals in every task they perform.

7. Prepare for the unexpected

Thinking about a challenge that may present itself from out of nowhere can be difficult, but to be successful in HR, professionals should devote time to preparing themselves for this possibility.

8. Documentation

"Document, document, document," Esry said. "Work with your managers to make sure that they document, especially employee relations managers."

9. Avoid painting yourself in a corner

"That comes back largely to how you practice, what you communicate and how you create your policies," Esry said.

10. Know what you don’t know

"Don't feel like you have to be an expert in everything," Esry said. "The worst thing that you can do is feel like you have to give an answer that you're not sure about."

11. Competent managers

"Incompetent managers can make your life miserable really quickly," Esry said. "You can find yourself spending the entire day dealing with nothing but employee relations matters, and sometimes disasters as a result of a manager who is not performing (his or her) job effectively."

12. Think before you speak

Smart HR professionals think through a situation, as opposed to making snap judgments and potentially saying or doing something they might regret.

13. Balance a sense of urgency with thoughtfulness and thoroughness

"We talk a lot in today's world about a sense of urgency and that we have to get things done right now," Esry said. "In HR, that can be a threat to you being effective, because acting without thinking through matters is where mistakes get made. I can't think of anything I did in the last 25 years that if I had done it two months later, a problem would have arisen. But I can definitely think of things that we did when we were in a hurry, and we made mistakes in the process because we did not fully think through the matter."

14. Walk it like you talk it

"You have to be the example for managers, and this can be a challenge," Esry said. "There's kind of a bad rap on HR people, sometimes deservedly so, who will go out of their way to try to break down that perception that they are holier than thou, or they are somehow the morality police or the keepers of all things politically correct. You have HR people who sometimes engage in behavior that they should not engage in. It's important that you be a good example within the organization."

15. Have courage: HR is not for wimps

"This is not a field to work in if you do not have some sand," Esry said. "You will not be successful, at least beyond a certain level. You can definitely come in and work as an analyst and work in an individual contributor role and probably be fine. But if you want to move up into management within HR, you're going to have to be willing to take positions that are not popular with your peers or with your boss, and you're going to have to be will work hard.

Learn more about UA Grantham's online degree in Human Resource Management or our other online degree programs.

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