HR Management: 5 Key Trends
By Amr Shokry
In recent years, the Human Resources industry has become increasingly complex. More and more companies are recognizing the power of the people (both their workforce and clients/customers) and are working to create a consistent brand image and company policy. Having an HR management team therefore becomes the key to ensuring that a company maintains its standards while upholding a healthy work environment among its employees.
I see people with a variety of different skill sets working in HR: from those holding the CPA or accounting degrees and certifications to those with IT experience, union experience, or those with people and organizational skills. Different companies may have HR teams of different sizes, with different responsibilities and company standards to follow. I have identified five key trends that are present across most HR departments, regardless of whether the company is unionized or non-unionized, has thousands of employees or a maximum of 50 people.
1. Finding the Right Fit
The biggest common theme I can see right now is a focus on hiring the right people for the company. Every company is looking for specific people depending on the country, the industry, the company’s business model and other factors. HR management means ensuring that the people who are hired are the right fit for the organization, that they are given the appropriate training upon arrival, and that they will be an asset to the organization by helping to achieve the company’s goals and objectives, be it on a short-term or long-term basis
2. Developing Team Players
Having the right skills is not enough: the duty of an HR team is to align the whole organization under common goals. The key is to facilitate a cooperative environment where leaders and teams, although working in different departments, are still pursuing the same objectives: maintaining the company’s vision and following organizational standards.
In order to achieve that, you have to use leadership and performance alignment tools. I know some people don’t like to use the words “performance management”. I mention it here only with regard to the process: I’m talking about the concept of aligning objectives to ensure that leaders and employees are working as part of a team, and are consistent in their standards and behaviours across all departments.
The example I always give is a comparison to an athletic team. We have seen big failures for big teams when many people with great talent don’t work well together. Just look at Real Madrid during the European soccer leagues about 10 years ago. They had some of the most talented soccer players around the world, but the team wasn’t successful straight away because they didn’t collaborate. Having the right talented people is definitely the first step; once you have them on board, it is important to sculpt them into a high-performing team
3. Enabling Leaders
I believe that the biggest success for HR is when the leaders themselves are able to foster a healthy work environment in a company. The more successful an HR department is in maintaining the company’s work culture, the more invisible it is, therefore enabling the leaders to be the company’s culture catalysts.
Of course it is acceptable for HR to be setting and enforcing the work standards, but only for a limited period of time. In the long term, HR should not hold the keys to the culture at work – they should enable that culture through the company’s leaders.
4. The Long-term Vision
One of the roles of an HR department is ensuring that the leaders are aware of the long-term company vision and plans. HR has the privilege of having access to different departments and resources within a company, and they can help those leading the organization to see the bigger picture.
For example, if one of the company leaders is looking for talent with a specific skill set, HR can intervene and make suggestions based on their broader knowledge of the company. They may know that the company will be expanding in different areas and different markets within the next two to four years. This can potentially encourage the leader to look for people with a different set of skills, not only to achieve this year’s vision, but also help the company grow in the long-term.
5. Managing Communication
Employees always want to know what is happening with the organization and want to be informed appropriately about the changes. This includes:
- Timing: they don’t want to learn about the changes too late or too early.
- Transparency: they want to be able to understand what those changes mean.
- Relevancy: they want to know how those changes might affect them.
HR management plays a role in all three tasks, especially in relevancy. This is where an HR team often gives counsel, since the company leaders may focus more on the strategic and financial impact of restructuring whilst missing the impact on the individuals. The key is to make sure the employee is in the centre of all communications, and that they understand the implications of any organizational changes.
Amr Shokry is a Human Resources (HR) leader with 20 years of senior leadership experience in Canada, USA and Europe. He is currently the HR director at InterWrap Inc. and teaches the Diploma in Human Resources Management at Ashton College.