In order to establish which skills are required it is important to understand where the value needs to be added in an organisation - and indeed across the profession - which may not necessarily be the same. A small organisation with one HR practitioner may require a very hands-on approach that deals predominantly with short-term issues, while a large organisation with several HR practitioners at varying levels of seniority may require much broader skills. The skills required can be divided into two categories; technical skills or competence, and personal skills or competence. The skills required for an HR practitioner can be subject to the role they assume within an organisation. A senior HR manager and a junior HR officer will not need the same level of technical competence and will certainly not need the same personal skills. However, the HR officer will need to develop these skills during their career if they are to be effective.
Warning: This article was first published in 2007
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If an HR practitioner is going to add real value to an organisation, they need to have a ‘toolkit’ that is much broader than specific HR skills; a strong commercial appreciation about their own business and about the commercial environment the business operates in; a strategic understanding of what the whole business wants to achieve in the short, medium and long term; and be able to provide HR input to the broader business strategy. Only with this perspective will they be able to shape HR strategy so that it delivers on business needs. A return on HR investment is essential for the HR function to demonstrate effectiveness and value.
A strong financial appreciation is important to ensure that the HR practitioner is able to debate and provide input at a senio