Human Resources: Six Skills to Develop for Future Success

HR professionals spend a lot of time advising the organizations on the things needed for success. They include having an award-winning candidate experience, positive employee experiences, an attractive company culture, and the list goes on. One of the prerequisites of developing a world-class organization is having a human resources department that can partner with the business to make it happen. Let’s face it, a mediocre HR team may or may not have the bandwidth to build a best place to work.

But that doesn’t mean HR pros are out on their own. In the book, The CMO of People: Manage Employees Like Customers with an Immersive Predictable Experience that Drives Productivity and Performance authors Peter Navin and David Creelman offer a unique perspective on the HR profession and how to build an HR function that is up for the task of creating that best company the C-Suite is looking for.

One chapter that’s worth paying attention to was on “How to Build an Unconventional HR Team.” Navin and Creelman highlight six skills that human resources professionals should focus on for their professional development.

  1. Collaboration shows a willingness to work with others. HR professionals have been accused of being the “department of ‘no’” and this can exclude HR from critical business conversations. While it’s true there will be times when HR does have to say no to protect the business, there are also times when HR can open the lab for a little experiment or do an A/B Test to determine the best strategy.
  2. Curiosity demonstrates the ability to learn, explore, and look for creative solutions that all stakeholders can support. Navin and Creelman point out that sometimes the word “creative” can conjure up images of artistic ability. It can also be associated with bending the rules (and not in a good way). It’s time to think of curiosity as a positive attribute that is focused on creating a win.
  3. Data and technology savvy have to be on the list. You simply cannot be a human resources professional today without having some level of competence in technology and data analysis. You do not need to be a computer programmer, but HR departments without a tech component will be left behind. Employees are looking for modern work experiences that match their personal lives.
  4. Executive presence is defined by the authors as “having the communication and storytelling skills to sell things to skeptics.” This is totally a necessary skill. HR can come up with the best ideas in the world but if no one buys into them, then they’re not going to happen. In addition, HR needs to keep the buy-in of stakeholders, so projects stay fully supported (and funded)!
  5. Risk-taking involves recognizing opportunities, being comfortable with managing risk, and having the judgment to shut down something that’s not working. The last part of that sentence about shutting down projects and programs that aren’t working is so critical. Organizations that want to move forward sometimes need to change the past.
  6. Systems thinking is the ability to see how all of the pieces fit together. Whether that’s within a department or the organization as a whole, HR pros need to understand how the organization works. It’s critical for effective recruitment, onboarding, learning, and planning. It also is a key component of selling ideas to management (no.4).

The skills being highlighted by Navin and Creelman are ideal for a company-wide management and leadership skills training program. The company might also want to develop some behavioral based interview questions around these areas to make sure that future hires have a sense of curiosity or proven skills in collaboration.

“The CMO of People” should be required reading for HR pros before going into the department’s annual strategy and budget session. It’s a perfect time to talk about what HR wants to accomplish in the upcoming year and, more importantly, how they’re going to go about achieving it.


Orginially posted on HR Bartender blog.


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