HR career issues: skills in demand post-recession

I’m an HR manager, keen to become a director. What skills will be most in demand after the recession?

The HR expert’s view

A move to HR director usually includes a place on the board, which requires a variety of skills and capabilities. None more so than the ability to think strategically, both in terms of HR delivery and how this supports the overall business objectives. What is essential, especially post-recession, is the ability to take a broader view of the business and to articulate the impact of HR initiatives on the bottom line. The recession has brought a heightened awareness of cost control, so it will be even more important to demonstrate value and return on investment. HR must be able to articulate how their programmes and initiatives positively affect profitability and support customer retention.

Solid HR practices are going to be the order of the day, albeit with a level of innovation and resourcefulness to maximise budgets. HR directors who can identify key capabilities, attract and retain talent, and implement initiatives to drive engagement will be well placed to deliver an HR strategy that can support commercial success.

Jennifer Stacey, chief people officer, Ceridian

The recruitment expert’s view

Post-recession there will be several distinct skills required of the ambitious HR manager aspiring to HR directorship. The key skill will be that of leadership. Rightly or wrongly, there is a feeling in some quarters that HR should have played a more strategic leadership role prior to the economic problems – especially in the financial services sector – so this is a golden opportunity for keen HR professionals to really lead.

While aspiring HR directors should be developing their experience in all HR disciplines, talent management and reward will be crucial in the coming years. And spend some time and effort working on raising your own profile and brand within the industry.

It’s been said before but today, more than ever, the ambitious HR professional should appreciate the day-to-day running of the business. Understand the numbers, look at the metrics of the organisation, the specific nuances of the business and what makes it tick. Only then can you truly appreciate how HR can make the optimum impact on any business.

John Maxted, chief executive, Digby Morgan

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