Over the past 18 months, one of the most critical roles in an organization has become that of the HR Manager. In the pre pandemic era, the Human Resources function has mostly been working in the background. Most employees in the business functions would generally say that they aren’t clear what the HR function does on a day-to-day basis.
However, since the Covid 19 pandemic has started, most organizations had to make some swift changes in the way they operate and consequently things like performance management, attendance, productivity measure had to also get aligned to the new normal. At the heart of this rapid adaptation of new practices and policies has been the HR function of organizations. Some organizations have made this transition extremely successful; their workforce is happier than before; they feel supported and understood. However, some organizations are still stuck with old ways of operations which is resulting in employee dissatisfaction, higher attrition, and eventually negative impact on productivity.
Given the way work life has changed over the last 18 months, we think it is critical for HR managers to adapt. Below we list down the 10 must have skills that an HR manager must possess to succeed in the post pandemic era:-
1.) People First- Given the business uncertainties, key business metrics do get impacted due to external factors. However, invariably the mindset at organizations is to find the link of such outcomes to certain functions or people. The question is mostly “who is to be blamed”. This results in some unnecessary harsh steps to reprimand the so-called responsible individuals. One such consequence is “You can’t work from home now, come to office”. This is a cardinal error as one must understand that almost all employees had to make some major changes to their lifestyles to start becoming productive from home. For parents of young children, they don’t have support of Day-Cares and Creche where they can leave their child and show up in office. Also, the pandemic isn’t over yet, pushing employees to show up in office is a risk to the health of a lot of people. As the people function owner, one would need to fight internal battles to ensure employees are not “victimized” due to vindictive nature of certain managers. If this is done well, it would definitely show up in the Gallup Surveys as a key positive. Employees want to experience that they are being heard and empathized with, more so in this environment of uncertainty.
2.) Break the Conventions- “What has got you here, won’t get you there” This is a very famous quote which applies perfectly in the current situation. The HR function needs to challenge the norms, policies and procedures and use context to assess if those policies are still relevant in the current situation or not. For e.g. Work From Home policy is no more a privilege, it is a necessity. Similarly, performance management systems and procedures need to be overhauled, driving employee engagement and talent development would need to be done in new innovative ways. Sticking to the old would soon make the organization redundant.
3.) Embrace Technology- Technology is the way forward, being an HR Manager should not be an excuse to say that you don’t appreciate technology. You are not expected to have coding skills but you must know the new age technology products available in the market which should the adopted. E.g. There are still scores of organizations who aren’t even aware of Slack as a communication tool. This is where the HR manager needs to evangelize such stuff.
4.) Don’t be a paper pusher- In many organizations, the HR manager just remains a paper pusher and doesn’t play an active role in build the organization and it’s culture. If you want to be a good HR manager, you need to have a voice in front of your leadership. You need to speak up and share your viewpoints rather than getting steam rolled. You are the expert when it comes to things related to people and ideally you should be the one whose input should count the most. This would mean some friction and some loss of popularity for you. But it would surely mean that people have greater respect for you and value your presence in the organization.
5.) Over Communicate- No amount of communication is too much, more so when your workforce is spread across hundreds and thousands of miles in certain cases. Reach out to people rather than reacting when they reach out to you. Communicate the happenings in the organization, this ensures that people feel connected. Set up structures for key leadership members to communication with people in small and large groups. Your job is to make them feel the part. Demand time from your leaders and don’t settle for their excuses. Drive this as a high importance agenda item for you and your organization’s leadership.
If you consistently get this above 5 things right, chances are that you would excel in your job.