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The 6 Must-Have Skills for HR.
How Many Do You Have?


The Must Have Skills for HR Professionals

Human Resource Management (HRM) is vital to organizational performance. To drive business growth, members of the HR team need to have specific capabilities. Although required skills can vary by company, some are essential across the board — such as business acumen, communication, organization, conflict resolution, confidentiality and adaptability.

Let’s explore these 6 must-have skills and competencies.


#1. Business Acumen


Business acumen is one of the most critical competencies for HR. Increasing proficiency in this competency increases credibility and legitimacy of HR in the eyes of business leaders. A CEO may not want to hear “I think we need to have management training” but a CEO may want to hear “The turnover rate for our managerial grades is 15% compared to 8% for our competitors. The exit interview data reveals our managers are not satisfied with the training and development opportunities we provide. If we introduce a leadership training program for all our managers and are able reduce the turnover to 8% our profits will increase by 5%.” The second approach puts far more legitimacy on the HR function than the first.

Business acumen is one of the most lacking competencies in HR according to our research. It requires HR to align all people management programs to the business strategy. To cultivate and grow your business acumen as an HR professional you should focus on the below areas.

  • Financial Literacy: Understand revenue, sales, balance sheets, profit & loss statements, cash flows and other important financial metrics.
  • Understand business operations and functions.
  • Understand the industry and competitive environment of your organization.
  • Make data driven decisions to support business case for HR.
  • Leverage technology to solve business and HR problems.

#2. Communication


At the heart of human resource management are people — and where there are people, there’s the need for effective communication, whether written or verbal.

For example, as an HR manager for a multinational company in the Middle East, you deal with a lot of people on a day-to-day basis, including other department heads in several parts of the region plus members of your own team.

To lead with purpose, you must embody the hallmarks of an excellent communicator, which include:

  • Active listening to show interest and encourage speaking
  • Critical listening to objectively evaluate what’s being said
  • Clear writing to increase comprehension and avoid misunderstandings
  • Empathy, diplomacy, impartiality, and persuasiveness in your interactions

#3. Organization


High-impact HR teams are organized. They understand that HRM involves not only finding and managing the right people but also ensuring the organization is operating according to applicable employment laws. They know that without a solid structure in place, things will become chaotic, confusing, and unsustainable.

For example, the GCC nations are undergoing rapid globalization, which makes the region especially appealing to growth-minded businesses worldwide. Moreover, GCC labor markets depend greatly on expatriates, and many GGC nations are investing heavily in talent development.

It can be difficult for HR teams in these countries to maintain order amidst the various labor laws, best practices, and company policies. To help the department reach this objective, you must be exceptionally organized, with a keen sense of timing, planning, and prioritizing.

  • Active listening to show interest and encourage speaking
  • Critical listening to objectively evaluate what’s being said
  • Clear writing to increase comprehension and avoid misunderstandings
  • Empathy, diplomacy, impartiality, and persuasiveness in your interactions

#4. Conflict Resolution


Where there are people, there’s bound to be conflict and the need for resolution.

What makes conflict so complicated in HR is that it occurs on different levels — from mild disagreements among coworkers, to substance abuse issues, to violence that threatens employees’ safety, to improper use of company property, to complaints about harassment and discrimination, to other conduct ranging from inappropriate to illegal. The HR team has the unenviable task of designing, implementing, and enforcing policies for handling these behaviors.

As a member of the team, you may be called upon to resolve employee disputes or de-escalate hostile work environments. During this process, you’ll need to:

  • Display emotional intelligence
  • Remain calm
  • Accurately define the problem
  • Determine what measures should be taken alleviate the conflict

#5. Confidentiality


Consider the plethora of sensitive information that flows into HR on a daily or periodic basis. In GCC nations, this may include:

  • Employment contracts
  • Work permits and visas
  • Employee personal data, such as address and banking information
  • Salaries
  • Pensions
  • Benefits/perks
  • Performance appraisals
  • Health and safety
  • Employee separation

Failure to secure this information as required by law can result in legal penalties. There’s also the matter of employee trust.

If employees cannot rely on HR to keep their data private, then they will start viewing the department in an unfavorable light — which can adversely impact retention.

Therefore, the ability to protect confidential information against unauthorized and unethical disclosure is a critical skill in HR.


#6. Adaptability


The business climate (domestically and globally) is always shifting, employment laws are always changing, and the HR function is always evolving. This means that as an HR practitioner, you must be flexible and adaptable to change.

Are there any other skills that you consider must-have for HR? Engage with us and do let us know.

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