Good leaders are hard to come by. Almost half of the companies that participated in the Workplace Trends’ Global Workforce Leadership Survey in February and March 2015 chose leadership as the hardest skill to find in employees. What’s more, among the 1,000 employee participants, only 36 percent called leadership a strength in their organizations.
One of the problems here is that when they analyze their leadership-development issues, most organizations put the responsibility on employees to improve, or on current leaders to train their teams. Employers expect their employees to attend leadership training events, take a development course or find a mentor to advance their skills and careers.
Alternately, the pressure is on managers to identify leaders in their teams and train them to follow in their footsteps in addition to their regular responsibilities.
But in this way, employers miss a big piece of the puzzle: human resources. HR needs to get involved in leadership development; otherwise organizations will be stuck in the same pattern.
Here’s how HR can help boost leadership development:
1. Define leadership.
What does great leadership look like? And what traits are the most important for a leader to have?
The answers of course vary from person to person and company to company. For some, a great leader may be someone who focuses on communication and transparency, while others may see a "leader" as someone who helps pick up the slack when the team is in need.
Everyone has an individual dea of what great leadership means, and each company needs something different depending on its culture and goals.
That’s where HR comes in. It’s HR’s job to get everyone onto the same page and define what leadership means within that particular company. HR has the power to define what the individual organizational brand of leadership is.
2. Identify potential.
Once the organization has a clear idea of what leadership looks like, HR can help identify which employees possess the right qualities for the job.
After all, a study conducted by Gallup found that just 18 percent of current managers had the talent required for the role. But HR is uniquely positioned to pick out employees with the leadership skills employers need. HR professionals have a larger view of talent, performance and skills. Where managers and coworkers likely have a limited view of employees, HR gets the whole picture.
From its vantage point, HR can review and compare feedback from managers, peers and clients. It can see skills and strengths, and identify those who exude the leadership qualities the organization needs. HR has a deep understanding of the skills needed and the best view of where those skills lie among employees across the organization.
3. Develop skills.
Having the right skills isn't enough to be a great leader -- professionals need training and development. And many employers fall short in this area. In fact, 39 percent of companies surveyed by Workplace Trends said they offered leadership development programs, but just 15 percent of their employees felt these programs effectively prepared them for their next role.
It’s not just new leaders who are missing out. Veterans feel that they aren't growing in their positions, either. Among those surveyed by Gallup, only 40 percent strongly agreed that they had opportunities to learn and grow at work in the past year.
So, the training and development programs already available may be ineffective because HR isn't involved and that needs to change. The reason is that HR can "see it all" the gaps in skills, the ways in which leadership development programs can be created to fit their organizations' definition of leadership and the preferences of those already in leadership positions for what's needed to foster growth.
4. Offer support.
Better training isn't the only way HR can contribute to leadership development. HR can build support for leaders into the processes and policies of the company. In other words, HR can set up recruitment and promotion processes, plus performance reviews to support and reinforce positive leadership.
For example, HR can make sure the organization recruits for the leadership skills needed. These skills can be requirements for positions that involve leading others right now or developing talent for future leadership roles.
In addition, HR can add leadership considerations into the promotion and performance-review process. That way, those who deserve a promotion but may not be suited for leadership can still get the recognition they deserve without being placed in a role they’re not right for. And that benefits everyone.
Performance reviews and management can not only screen for leadership qualities, but also reinforce what good leadership looks like in a organization.
That way, leaders will be recognized for their hard work as they continue to improve and develop. With HR’s support, leadership development can be built into every level of the company.
Human resources occupies a unique role in any company. Unlike other departments, HR has a strong connection to every department, from seeing how each team contributes to overall business strategy to zeroing in on individual employee needs. The modern HR professional goes beyond the administrative call of duty and embraces a relationship to everyone in an organization.
It’s that very connection and understanding that affords HR professionals the unique ability to act as a “chameleon” of sorts kindly borrowing certain strategies they see working across the org. Because HR chats with everyone, any employee can serve as a valuable mentor.
The best HR leaders now enact multiple business strategies to take their companies to the next level. Here are four roles that will serve them well to emulate in their day-to-day:
Marketing plays an essential role in the overall success of a business and, although it may not seem like it at first, it plays an equally important role in human resources. Think about it: at its core, recruiting is based on marketing the company and its open positions to job seekers. And the rise of digital marketing has made it easier than ever for HR to play the part of the marketing professional.
How it applies to HR:The global competition for talent has required HR to take on marketing. When it comes to attracting applicants to the company, it’s partly up to human resources to market the company’s employer brand and its reputation as an employer.
One extremely effective way to do this is by helping job seekers visualize what it might be like to work at the company through culture or recruitment videos like this one by Shopify. Featuring corporate culture videos, employee testimonials and photos on social media is an effective way for human resources to market open positions and attract top-tier talent.
To go from administrative expert to strategic business partner, HR professionals need to be financially intelligent. They need to understand the universal business language: accounting.
How it applies to HR:Being well-versed in accounting can help with a number of business practices, from developing budgets to creating proposals. Most importantly, however, accounting helps HR professionals manage performance and identify return on investment (ROI).
A knowledge of accounting makes it easier to crunch numbers and measure employee performance based on inventory, sales, customer satisfaction and more. Accounting can also help HR professionals calculate ROI to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of various HR-related initiatives, such as employee development, team-building and wellness programs.
When it comes to talent, human resources and sales go hand-in-hand. Just as recruiting comes down to marketing to job seekers, recruiting also comes down to direct sales. HR professionals need to understand sales strategy before they can make informed decisions about talent requirements.
How it applies to HR:To figure out what type of talent is needed, where to find it and how to secure it, HR needs to have a deep understanding of the company’s products and/or services, as well as various market conditions. Understanding sales strategy helps human resources professionals identify where talent or skills gaps exist within the company and how to best fill those gaps.
4. Customer Service
Last, but certainly not least, human resources professionals need to take a page out of customer service’s book. While human resources is increasingly becoming a strategic field, it is a service department, first and foremost. For the HR professional, the customer is the employee and customer service is the HR brand.
How it applies to HR:Just as customer service employees strive to meet the needs of customers, human resources professionals focus on the needs of employees (both current and prospective). HR is typically the first interaction a person has with a company, so understanding job seeker and employee needs and how to cater to them is essential. Adopting a customer service state of mind is good practice for today’s HR.
The head of HR is frequently, at least in the CEO’s eyes, seen as the low man (or woman) on the executive totem pole. This occurs despite the fact that people are the biggest item on almost every company’s budget, and that CEO's consistently list talent as a top concern.
Yet, rather than being seen as a strategically valuable, business-oriented leader, the head of HR is often regarded instead as administration- and compliance-focused.
How can HR leaders reverse this image and make themselves invaluable to the CEO and the business?
Here are four ways:
1. Match talent resources with company strategy.
The ability to counsel the CEO in strategic planning and resource allocation is critical to HR’s role in modern business. CEO's want an HR executive who understands where the company wants to go and what talent resources are required to get there quickly. And every group wants as many people as they can get to do the work.
The CEO needs help to determine the right number of resources in every area to execute on the strategy and maintain balance across the organization. Small changes in the number of people in an organization can change a loss into a profit, or vice versa. The head of HR can provide the data and counsel to make the organization as efficient as possible.
2. Help attract the best and brightest.
CEO's want the HR department to proactively help find and hire industry stars not just put up job posts when a vacancy occurs. Filling empty positions is not enough to be successful. A true HR leader must help market the company in a way that attracts the best talent in the industry. Recruiting is a continues sales process, and top-notch HR leaders will embrace it and add tremendous value.
3. Deliver excellence in the on boarding process.
HR leaders should drive good management practices by applying the mantra, “Don’t micromanage, but do micro-train.” Too many companies hire good people only to let them flounder once they come on board. Then they’re disappointed when the new employee doesn't contribute quickly.
HR can end this harmful dynamic by owning the on boarding process. Quality on boarding includes making the new hire aware of company history and general industry knowledge and having him or her attend meetings with key executives, in addition to the obvious job-specific training.
These actions have multiple benefits such as driving high performance, creating a common language across the company and building a strong culture through shared experiences.
4. Focus on employee engagement.
Most companies don't measure employee engagement, much less manage it. This is yet another area where the HR executive can and should take the lead. He or she can:
Measure engagement through tools such as Gallup's Q 12 Survey.
Take action on issues surfaced.
Support the entire management chain in efforts to engage employees.
It’s especially critical for HR to coach and give feedback to first-line managers, many of whom aren't well trained and lack skills that are critical to keeping employees engaged and motivated.
These are just four of many areas where a strong HR leader can provide real business value and reclaim his or her rightful position as a vital adviser to the CEO. Of course, the CEO should also be a champion of the HR function and willing to take an active role in all these areas.
Choosing to work for this type of CEO is the first step toward success for an HR leader.
Neeti Sharma, the co-founder of Team Lease Services, - India's recruitment consultancy, human resource outsourcing and staffing company - says there are abundant jobs in India right now that can be tapped by keeping some simple points in mind.
If you have additional skills along with a degree, you will definitely clock a job in 2017, says Sharma.
Sharma believes employers are now not looking for manual laborers but for people who understand a bit of technology and can use high-end tools.
She calls IT, retail, telecom, finance, electronics and eCommerce the hottest sectors that are hiring and will continue hiring in 2017.
In a candid chat with Entrepreneur India, Sharma spoke of the top #8 recruitment trends that job-seekers must keep in mind to ensure a job in the coming year.
Cognitive Skills Crucial
“When employers are hiring, you need to prepare for the kind of jobs you are looking for. You need to know the subject, you need to know the industry and you should be able to do the job-role specific interview,”.
Analyze the Job Role Well
“If you give in your CV and say you have done 10 case studies and you cannot talk about a single case study, then obviously you won’t get employed,”.
Identify the Sector You Want to Get a Job in
Let’s say you are a 12th standard pass out, eCommerce has dime a dozen jobs right now. If you are a graduate, you need to identify what sort of employment you must take. At the post graduate level, choosing the sector becomes most important.
Being Multi-skilled Top Priority
“Employers are looking for skill sets more than a degree. So you don’t have to think ‘oh, I don’t have a graduation degree, what must I do,”.
You can get into back office operations or you can get into delivery services, which involves not just delivery people delivering goods. Delivery services is now no more about supply chain and logistics, but it is about understanding technology, it is about processes and understanding customer service.
Know Your Subject Well
Employers are looking for multi-skilled employees and their risk-taking ability along with decision-taking ability are keenly seen by employers according to Sharma.
Attend 1-3 Months Internship Programmes
If you have done civil engineering course, work for two three years before deciding what you want to do next. If you jump from an engineering degree to a management degree for better salaries, I don’t think you can meet the purpose,”.
Get an Experience Before Clocking a Job
Sharma urges all prospective employees to understand ground reality with employers to avoid disappointments. She believes if employees get an experience before going ahead with a job, they know what they are getting into and seldom face any distress.
Look for Growth Companies
There are many MSMEs that are looking to become big companies. There are many companies that have grown in the last 2-3 years, so when you look at startups, it is for you to decide if you should go ahead for something that has started a month ago or has been growing since the last 2-3 years and has the potential to grow.
HR usually isn’t lumped into this "right-hand" category, and that's a shame because HR leaders are critical to the success of every organization. They do much more behind the scenes than many people realize. Without them, businesses wouldn’t have dedicated teams of talented people, and without people, there is no business.
Here are just a few of the ways HR staff are critical to the success of every organization -- and to every CEO:
They work to hire the best:
It sounds simple, but hiring is a deeply complex process. In fact, 48 percent of CEOs surveyed by CareerBuilder in 2015 said their companies had lost money due to inefficient recruiting. And that process isn’t getting any easier.
Among recruiters surveyed by Jobvite this year, 95 percent expected recruiting to be as or more challenging in 2017. But that’s where HR departments come in. They’re not trying to hire people as fast and cheaply as possible -- they’re looking for the best people for the job, and that saves money in the long run.
An HR department is more concerned with post-hire metrics like performance and retention of new hires than metrics that measure the hiring process, like cost and time-to-hire. This focus on the success of new employees is critical to the overall health of the organization as a whole.
According to a report published by Gallup in May, turnover involving millennials alone costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually. But when HR takes the time to find the best talent for the job, and then finds ways to keep these individuals satisfied, talent sticks around. Retention keeps companies moving forward while saving both time and money.
They’re focused on employee engagement:
Employee engagement is seen as one of the biggest workplace problems. Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace survey of more than 350,000 respondents nationwide estimated that disengaged employees cost U.S. businesses between $450 billion and $550 billion each year in lost productivity.
But HR is on the case, leading the charge to make sure employees are engaged. Engagement, in fact, can be boiled down to just a few factors, including employee recognition, feedback, learning and development, plus compensation, benefits and work-life balance.
So, whether an HR department is finding new learning and development opportunities, collecting employee feedback with regular engagement surveys or developing recognition programs and incentives, the HR staff is always looking for the best engagement strategies to fit their employees and company culture.
And motivating, recognizing and engaging employees has a huge impact. Among employees surveyed by Globoforce in 2016, 82 percent said that when they feel appreciated and recognized, they feel more engaged, and 78 percent feel more productive.
Their insights improve the business:
HR has a unique view of the company and the people behind it, putting them in the perfect position to help make important business decisions. While the HR department isn’t traditionally thought of as a part of the strategy team, 65 percent of CEOs in the CareerBuilder survey said that, post-recession, HR opinions carry greater weight with senior management. What’s more, 73 percent said their HR leader had provided data that they had incorporated into their business strategy.
If things are working as they should, a company's HR department has a deep understanding of talent and how employees work, and tracks the data to back up their suggestions. More than half (57 percent) of CEOs in the CareerBuilder survey said HR executives can show ways to increase efficiencies and cut costs by better using the company’s human capital.
When the HR department and C-suite work together, the results are powerful. A 2014 survey by EY found that when companies boasted strong collaboration between HR and finance, they also reported higher earnings and stronger improvement across a range of HR metrics, such as employee engagement.
Effective HR departments, then, help organizations get the most from their people, while also keeping those people happy. With HR's insights, employers can make smarter decisions on where and how to invest in their talent to benefit everyone.