New entrants to the HR profession over the past two years have stepped into a world that is marked by massive disruption and ongoing ambiguity and uncertainty. It’s a world that is significantly different than what the profession offered in the past, not only because of the pandemic, but also because of the significant role that HR technology plays today.
HR Technology Rules in Today’s Business World
Daniel Cook is the head of business development and HR at the law firm of Mullen and Mullen. “Becoming the head of HR around two years ago was one of the most eye-opening experiences I have had,” he says. One of his biggest surprises: the significant impact of HR technology. While he assumed that HR was “all about implementing soft skills,” Cook says he now recognizes that “with evolving technology, there are many changes being made to the HR function in different organizations.”
Words like databases, dashboards and data visualization are now an essential part of HR departments’ lexicon.
Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., a global keynote speaker and concierge coach and the author of Get Out of the Red Zone, agrees that HR technology is a foundational element of HR practice today. “To be a competitive, new HR professional you must become tech aware,” she says. “If you know and understand the technology and can discover seamless ways to complete your everyday duties, you can put your organizational talents to better use,” she says.
Sai Blackbyrn, a hiring director, career coach and CEO of Coach Foundation agrees. “One of the biggest surprises I encountered when entering the HR field was that you need to be really tech-savvy to succeed in this domain,” he says. “My preconceived notion about HR was that you would just be required to conduct interviews, onboard employees, gather documents, and change existing policies.”
HR Technology is a Tool, Not a Competency
While HR technology skills are important for today’s HR practitioners, the ability to strategically and effectively manage an organization’s human resources is crucial.
Irene McConnell, managing director at Arielle Executive, and a member of Forbes Coaches Council, says she would advise new HR pros to connect quickly with different departments in their company. The ability to establish relationships is key to being able to implement policies even in the face of employee resistance, she says.
Cook agrees. Cook said he assumed that HR would be a “one-person job,” but now recognizes the need to work across the organization with a wide range of other functions.
The sheer diversity of the world in which today’s HR practitioners work requires strong interpersonal and communication skills. “Dealing with diversity was certainly an issue at first, but now I am starting to train myself to adopt different approaches for dealing with different people,” McConnell says. “It provides excitement at my work, and I can learn a lot from communicating and catering to everyone’s needs.”
If working remotely, schedule 30-minute 1:1s and get to know your colleagues, their pain points, and their annual goals. How is their team performing? What are their growth plans? Help them anticipate their resource needs proactively.
While many things have changed in the practice of HR, driven both by advances in technology and experiences with remote and hybrid work during the pandemic, one thing remains the same: the human element.