Human resources has evolved dramatically over the period of time from a “paper pusher” department to a much more dynamic department. Here’s a few important steps to do when starting your HR career.
Human resources are contributing substantially to the success of organisations by playing an important role in a long-term development strategy.
Having said that, the primary task revolves around the organisation’s most valuable assets: people.
To manage the workforce staffing and operations effectively, one must have a certain level of comfort in working with and working for people. This involves a range of tasks including but not limited to, recruitment, timely payroll processing, process improvement, problem-solving and the organisation’s culture.
Let’s begin with one of the most complete definitions of human resource management:
“It is basically a method of developing potential employees so that they feel maximum satisfaction of their work and give their best efforts to the organisation”.
– Pigors and Myres
If you wish to start your career in Human Resources, this article will provide you with an insight into what human resources is and the approach one should take to ensure success in their HR career.
Let us start with some of the advice given by leading HR professionals that will help you prepare in starting your HR career and prosper in your career in human resources.
Human resource is understanding the “human side”
The business aspect has to be the priority for all the departments while ensuring to align with the organisation’s vision and mission. To achieve and maintain the business objectives, the tasks of the employees become monotonous and lethargic.
The business managers expect the best results, sometimes at the cost of employee happiness and individual growth.
Of course, to ensure the company policies and compliance requirements are adhered to, HR professionals need to get to the roots of the employee’s soul, emotions and motivational factors. All this should be aligned with their job roles strategically aligning them with the best-suited profiles for the employees to be more effective.
Every organisation has a different set of people thus, it is important for HR professionals to be creative with people’s problems and solutions that best fit your organisation.
Create a legacy
Staying aligned with the business is more important. To become a true and successful business partner, it is crucial for you to understand the business as much as they do.
Aligning business goals with empathy and showing that you care about people will leave a positive impact on their lives creating a legacy. You need to drive the conversations with data and passion for people.
Respect and trust are important
Knowing and interacting with people of the organisation is important. Be it the management, leadership or the employees. You can build or break trust with the way you converse and empathise with people and situations.
If you succeed in building trust and earning respect, there is no doubt that you will create your own legacy of how to be a successful business partner.
Be strategic, inquisitive and dependable
Staying aligned with business will provide you with ample opportunities to gain trust and respect by bringing a difference in people’s lives while contributing to organisational growth.
Think creatively and out of the box to create your worth in becoming a dependable resource whether you are offering HR services. Involve yourself strategically with the leadership team to drive the desired culture. Know your industry well. A holistic approach always leads to a rewarding career.
Engage employees by staying compliant
Staying aligned with your business and being empathetic with people can make you stand out in the team. However, ensuring the HR machinery runs smoothly is the core responsibility.
One of the most important roles of HR is to enforce the right policies, procedures, training and benefits. These are the primary and basic functions of HR that help the employees to remain productive, engaged and motivated.
Be an unbiased business partner
The role of the Human Resource Business Partner is to strategically manage the business and the employees. Becoming trusted advisers who can influence and drive the required change in the organisation needs an unbiased approach.
Thus, it is important to build meaningful relationships while staying consistent, fair and most importantly, approachable. Collectively, it will strengthen you to proficiently drive and implement the business initiatives while delivering successful results.
Get associated and aligned with human resource leaders to learn and develop yourself regularly. Learn best practices from them and broaden your professional network.
Building good relationships and learning from every leader of the organisation will help you develop into a successful business partner and an approachable human resource professional.
Every journey starts with walking that warms you up to run later. It stands true for HR careers as well. Take your time, listen to your leaders and be yourself. To gain the confidence of people, it is extremely important to be humble.
Although HR is considered to be formulating and implementing policies, the role of HR is not black and white. To ensure that the compliances and policies are being adhered to by the employees, you learn with time and experience. So, take your time to learn, make mistakes and be accountable.
Find your direction
HR gamut entails multiple sub-functions like recruitment, compensation and benefits, employee relations, training, etc. HR positions at every organisation will be unique. HR management at some companies might include multiple duties, while in other companies the duties may be split within the team.
You must ensure to work and learn every aspect of HR as it will help you find your area of interest. Once you find the niche, you can then follow the direction to ensure success with passion.
Know the right reason
People interaction is one of the primary reasons for people to choose the HR function as their career option. As mentioned above, there are multiple roles that fall under the umbrella, every role is transactional as well. Ensure that the role you are opting for will provide you with satisfaction.
Mentioned above were some pieces of advice from successful HR leaders. Let us now understand what are the skills required to succeed in the HR function.
The role of Human Resource professionals is to develop strategies and implement them effectively. To achieve and organise the things effectively, you must have the following skills:
Strong time management skill
As we have mentioned above, the HR gamut includes various duties. Thus, one should be adept at meeting deadlines as you need to take out time to meet employees and the business leaders as well to enhance workplace communication channels.
You will have to balance different tasks every day from hiring to firing, generating reports, resolving employee grievances, managing payrolls, training schedules, meeting the leadership team and much more. To ensure that everyone follows ethical and professional behaviour all the time, you will have to reflect the same to set the standards.
Better understanding of the company objectives
The HR strategies should be aligned with the company’s vision, mission and goals. Having clarity on the company’s goals and its alignment with HR’s goals is the key to success. Better understanding will lead to effective resource management.
While dealing with different scenarios every day, you need creative solutions. The approach taken with transparency, openness, innovation and enthusiasm in your role will instil trust in leadership ensuring them that you are delivering a quality job.
Grab the opportunity to act proactively, especially when you are working with a startup or a smaller organisation. Take initiatives and set up the cultural values that are aligned with business goals that will stay for the long term.
It is easier to implement policies and procedures when you are small. This will also help in identifying the challenges or gaps within the organisation.
Do not hesitate to seek leadership support to implement new initiatives. Gather regular feedback. Improvise regularly by reviewing the feedback and experiments. However, be cautious and be accountable for all the responsibilities to take up.
Learn the complete HR gamut
Give time to yourself in deciding the niche you want to take up in the future. Understand every aspect of HR. Getting in the shoes of an HR business partner or generalist role is one of the best ways to get the overall insight into the human resource function.
Once you decide on the specialisation you want to take up as your career, the insights gained at the initial stage will equip you better to manage the specialised role.
To get an understanding, you should shadow members of your or external teams to gain better exposure.
Building a network within the fraternity and outside helps. Attend seminars and workshops to build connections. This will not only keep you updated on the HR practices being followed by other organisations but will also in knowledge exchange and the approaches being followed.
Building relationships with the business leaders will give you a better understanding of the business that will widen your scope of aligning HR policies and procedures with the organisational goals.
Meeting people on a regular basis builds trust. Employees will approach you with an openness that will proactively help you identify the process gaps and many times give you signs of employee turnover as well.
Speak the right business language
People strategy and business strategy are interdependent. For an organisation to prosper, it is the role of the HR professional to empathise with employees. Similarly, it is also important for the business managers to also be good HR people.
Organisations commonly state that people are their most valuable assets but at the end of the day, businesses focus more on numbers and outcomes.
It becomes important for HR professionals to learn to speak the business language. This means that employees are not merely “assets”. Motivated, smart and happy employees drive better business outcomes. It is the job of the HR professional to show and prove with numbers that good people practices equal better business outcomes.
Learning the business jargon and understanding what drives business and business leaders will provide you with a competitive advantage.
Today’s digital world has provided us with multiple resources to enhance our skills and stay updated in our area of specialisation. You can get answers and information in no time. Be it relevant courses or finding a network of HR professionals, it is readily available and most of it is free.
It is best to continually learn and stay updated. There are various resources available like webinars, HR certifications, communities, and much more. Take up new projects, connect with HR groups to exchange experiences and get support and follow a backward approach to learn from your mistakes.
Join the network communities like Linkedin and Slack groups and local meet ups and learn how the small HR teams are building their company cultures.
Subscribe to newsletters, read blog posts and attend webinars – these are some of the ways to continually learn while growing your network.
While learning, it is equally important to give back to the community. Share your experiences and knowledge whenever you can. New perspectives may lead you to unique insights. Don’t hesitate or underestimate your own experience and thought leadership.
Communicate with positive approach
As an HR professional, you will be required to communicate with everyone in the team, right from the CEO to the management team, middle levels, current employees, alumni, and prospective employees. This communication will be done at all levels, not only at the time of transitioning but on a day-to-day basis as well.
The form of communication will also depend on multiple factors and can be done in the form of verbal communication, email and written communication, large presentations, and many more.
All forms of communication should be used with extreme care. Also, the communication done should be clear, believable and should inspire trust.
Develop your vision for success
Stagnancy and an “I know it all” attitude will lead to the end of the road. Keep challenging yourself with compelling personal goals. Develop your vision for success in your profession. Collectively, all this will lead to your individual growth as an HR professional.
Human resources plays a critical role in the organisation’s infrastructure. Motivated and happy employees are more productive. If you are starting your career in HR, ensure to learn all the aspects of the Human Resource vertical before shortlisting on the specialisation.
To succeed in this profession, especially when starting your HR career, you should learn to communicate effectively, build trust and stay approachable. Most importantly, one must master time management skills to successfully manage various roles.
The leadership should also support HR in implementing new initiatives for better productivity, aligned vision and better business outcomes. Every leader must have HR skills to get the maximum productivity from the team they are leading.
About the Author
Piyush Shah is a 6 figure affiliate marketer and has helped grow multiple businesses from nothing to making insane business figures. He is currently working as Head of SEO at Dukaan.