In our last article, 5 Reasons Leadership in HR is Key, we told you why leadership is so important in human resources. However, we didn't focus on what makes a good leader. We've talked to more experts to find out some of the best tips for leadership in HR. Check out these tips. They're numbered, but there's no particular order of importance.
1. "Hey, Listen!" - Navi (The Legend of Zelda)
The value of listening for leaders is rarely understated. At least, it is for people who talk about leadership. Nonetheless, for leaders in HR, listening is simply more important than it might be for leaders in other departments. After all, part of your job is to steer the company ship in the right direction. How can you do that if you don't listen to the crew when they yell "ICEBERG!"?
At the very least, Patrick Algrim, an executive with experience in Silicon Valley, seems to think listening is important for HR executives. Here's what he had to say.
"It is a skill, not only an act. And for those who are looking to understand their teams on a deeper level, it's vital that HR goes through the process of listening to their staff during evaluations or retrospectives,"
Patrick Algrim, Founder of Algrim.co
Of course, as important as listening during evaluations and retrospectives is, listening skills should never be a switch you turn off. You should always listen to your employees. I don't mean listening in the "I'll oblige you" sense either. You may not always do what employees want when they voice their concerns, but it should be clear that you have heard them out.
2. Engage in Team-Building Exercises or Ice-breakers
One company is convinced that leaders in HR should use team-building exercises. The Great Guac Off helps leaders host team-building exercises, most notably, a guacamole making competition. An oft-overlooked component of leadership is amicability. If you think back on the best leaders you've encountered, most of the time (not all of the time), you probably liked them as a person.
A great leader can be likable. Even if this is not always true, more importantly, a great leader facilitates amicability among team members.
That might be a reason Michael Alexis, co-founder of The Great Guac Off, believes in community forums and ice-breakers.
"No matter what format it takes, an ice-breaker or community-oriented forum is important for your team. No team can survive unless its members work together, and no team can truly work together unless they know each other,"
Michael Alexis, Co-founder of The Great Guac Off
A little friendly competition might be exactly what your team needs to work together more efficiently and amicably.
3. Use All 6 Leadership Styles
I'm not here to tout the virtues of all 6 leadership styles for HR professionals. The leadership styles have leaders work toward means of leading people that work best for them. I've typically heard that people should find their box here, and stick to it. I tend to avoid paradigms that oversimplify nuanced subjects such as leadership in this way.
Nonetheless, Madineyah Isaacs, a life and leadership coach, has a unique take on the 6 leadership styles. Don't master one style. Don't even master two. Master all six, she says. The thinking here is that leaders will build a toolkit of approaches to any given situation.
"No style is better or worse than another, but they only result in effective usage when used at the right time and place and in your particular case with the unique needs of individual employees,"
Madineyah Isaacs, Life and Leadership Coach at madineyah.com
If you treat the 6 leadership styles as a single, fluid response to the situations you'll be put into as the leader of your HR department, you'll have a powerful tool to enforce, reinforce, and guide your policies.
4. Be Proactive
Not much more needs to be said on this point, one which Howard Prager, President of Advance Learning Group, makes.
"It's too easy in HR to be tactical because of all the day-to-day issues and fires we have to fight. We then become reactive instead of proactive,"
Howard Prager, President of Advance Learning Group
In HR, leaders should never let the issues stagnate, but better still, they should approach them before they even arise.
5. Turn Managers into Coaches
Managers represent one of your most important human resource. It's vital that they, as well as you, employ leadership skills. That's why
Tasia Duske, CEO and Hiring Manager of Museum Hack, says mangers need to don the coach hat.
"The number one way to engage individual employees is to have your managers function as coaches,"
Tasia Duske, CEO and Hiring Manager of museumhack.com
This isn't an easy job. It takes some serious time. Up to 3 hours for each employee per quarterly review purely for prep time, as Duske said. At those meetings, don't just do the bare minimum. Spend time considering the team member’s individual strengths, needs, and career path. Take an interest in them, and it will pay dividends for your company.
We could go on and on in circles with tips on what makes great leaders in HR, but, at some point, we've got to wrap this up. Whether you employ these tips, or have your own methods the important part is that you work at it and remain introspective, self-aware. You've got a critical job. Leadership is ensuring that you're doing it to the best of your ability, and helping others do the same.