What kind of HR professional are you?
Technology is driving a wave of change so great that the World Economic Forum has dubbed it the “fourth industrial revolution”, according to Michelle Gibbings, founder of Change Meridian.
Gibbings added that this change is fundamentally evolving the nature of work – what is done and how it’s done.
“HR professionals play a critical role in shaping how this impacts their organisation and in helping executives and leaders to best thrive in this complex, ambiguous and ever-shifting environment,” said Gibbings.
“To do that, the HR leader needs the optimal mix of technical and behavioural skills.
“Being technically brilliant is one thing, but it’s not the foundation on which to build a platform for influence.”
This is not self-serving influence, said Gibbings, but influence which is focused on ensuring balanced outcomes, considering the needs of all stakeholders.
“Influential HR leaders, who strive to serve the greater good, take the long view with relationships and don’t sacrifice a relationship for short term, self-serving gain,” Gibbings said.
“They treat everyone they meet with respect and know that every interaction they have with a person matters because everybody wants to feel valued.”
Gibbings said that influential leaders are not afraid to take a stand and speak up against the majority on the things that are important – not just for them, but for other people as well.
“They take the time to listen to people and ensuring people feel fully heard when they are raising an idea or a concern.”
Moreover, Gibbings said influential HR leaders a range of other characteristics, including:
- Welcoming different thoughts, ideas and opinions as they know they don’t have all the answers
- Hiring people who are smarter than them. They know they need an awesome team around them if they are to make progress
- Being willing to admit when they make a mistake. They appreciate that it is only through understanding a mistake and why it happened that real change can occur
- Acknowledging the efforts of others and not taking the glory for successes that were not there’s or there’s alone
In taking on board this approach and encouraging it in the leaders they work with, Gibbings said HR professionals need to seek to understand themselves, others and the organisational system in which they are working.
Gibbings offers three tips on how to be more influential in your role:
Firstly, examine the mindset being applied to work and relationships. Letting assumptions drive thought processes, and ultimately behaviour, can negatively impact your decision making and interactions with colleagues and stakeholders.
This means that influence starts from the inside – out. It’s impossible to influence others if you don’t understand yourself what drives your thought processes and behaviour.
As Chinese Philosopher, Lao Tzu said: "He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened".
Similarly, take the time to understand what intrinsically motivates those around you. Having insight into others better enables you to work with them and encourage and inspire them to secure common goals.
And lastly, know the system in which the organisation operates, and how the players inter-relate, make decisions, and secure outcomes. This includes understanding what drives change in the environment, as well as the organisation’s strategy, business model and challenges.
Play the long game
Seek to secure long term, constructive relationships which are mutually beneficial. One sided relationships – where it’s all about the individual – are not sustainable. Seek to give, before you ever ask for something from the other person.
It’s also important to be conscious about how you build your network. Identify relationship gaps and weaknesses and put a plan in place to address.
As well, be conscious of your actions and how they are seen by other people. Inconsistencies in what you say and do are easily seen by others. It’s hard to build relationships when you are seen as inauthentic and untrustworthy.
Craft your impact
Influential people have impact. They get things done, communicate effectively and know how to negotiate outcomes.
So, be deliberate about how you use your time. Be decisive in how you make decisions. And be determined in the face of set-backs. Persistence pays off.
Keep your communication simple, and remember: it’s not how much you talk, but what you say that matters. Ground your messages in reality and what people need to know.
And lastly, treat decision making negotiations as an opportunity to build relationships. Be prepared, principled and focused.
Being an influential HR leader is particularly important if you are a global HR leader whose role is to manage an overseas team.
HRD recently spoke to Sharon Seet, global HR manager at Yanmar International, to find out her tips on maintaining a strong bond with your team despite the distance.
Seet said that relationship building has to be done every day – even if you’re busy at work.
“Yes, we have a lot of work, but relationship building is ongoing and we have to find ways,” she said.
But with the line between professional and personal blurred, how do you avoid overstepping boundaries?
“HR has to be friends with employees. Once you are friends with them, they are more open with you,” she said.
“But there’s a line you have to draw that ‘yes, we are friends – after five’. You have to set the expectations, but you still need to build the friendship along the way.
“And it’s possible – it’s happening with my team. They don’t regard me as their manager or boss. They just talk to me like a friend.”