Building a strong HR team: What skills to grow
Instructional Design

Building a strong HR team: What skills to grow

, Former Content Marketing Manager

Professional development is at the heart of any successful organization. And it’s usually the members of the HR team that’ll promote this mindset of continuous career growth. But what about their own development? Supporting ongoing training for HR managers means that they, too, have the time and resources to grow their skills.

Processes change, systems evolve, and new practices and approaches are always emerging. Which means, however well-qualified or good at their jobs HR managers are, there’s always room for improvement. Especially if they want to make an impact on the organization.

Why train the trainer?

Managing the complete employee lifecycle, from recruitment and onboarding, training and talent management, to benefits, payroll, and performance, HR is often viewed as being a purely process-driven, “operational” department. And HR manager training typically focuses on the formal, hard skills needed to deliver those employment processes.

But HR is—or should be—so much more than. Helping to lead your company’s culture and develop its people strategy, HR professionals need a mix of hard and soft skills to be successful.

Yes, HR manager training needs to comprehensively cover the essentials like how to hold performance reviews or use an HRIS (especially when there’s a new hire on the team). But to make an impact across your organization they need to grow and develop skills outside this.

More specifically, training for HR managers is essential because it:

  • keeps your HR team on top of their game, learning and growing in line with industry developments, and
  • sends a powerful message out to the rest of your employees that ongoing training is essential.

So, what kind of HR training courses will elevate the impact and influence of your HR team?

Let’s look at what you can offer to support the three key areas: people management, strategic role, and company culture.

1. Elevating people management

HR is about people as much (if not more) than it’s about processes. And here lies the challenge. Unlike processes, people don’t fit into a fixed pattern or mold. They require flexible, intelligent, informed, and personal interactions to function at their best.

To meet this demand, HR professionals need a wide range of communication and interpersonal skills they can call on to manage different scenarios, challenges, and stakeholder groups.

Think about the regular performance review, for example. It can be an emotional experience for many employees. And the issues that may arise are hard to predict and prepare for. HR professionals shouldn’t just know how to run those performance reviews. They should also know how to tackle difficult conversions gracefully, how to treat everyone fairly, and how to listen to people’s concerns.

A great HR manager is not close to people only when things go smooth. They’re here to motivate people even during tough times. And communication skills play a big part in this. So, when designing training for HR managers, consider including courses on the following areas:

  • Empathy: Empathy is one of the most important parts of emotional intelligence and it comes into play quite often in people management situations. Help your HR team to know how to identify the different types of empathy and how to apply them to different scenarios.
  • Body language: If your body’s giving off a different message to the words you’re saying, the meaning can be distorted. And in the workplace, the people who are often making announcements, sharing company updates, or having confidential discussions, should be clear in both what they say and what they don’t say. Show your HR teams how to use body language to clarify rather than confuse their message.
  • Listening: In a one-to-one performance management session, actively listening (rather than just hearing) tells your employee that you’re engaged in their story, keen to understand, and actively looking for solutions. Including listening skills in your HR management training will make performance management conversations more effective.
  • Ethics and discretion: HR teams are trusted with confidential and often sensitive and personal information about employees—be it performance data, medical records, or compensation details. How they handle and manage that information is crucial and requires discretion and ethics.
  • Having tough conversations: HR teams are often required to carry out difficult conversations. Perhaps there are conflicts within a team. Or, they need to discuss an employee’s poor performance. Or, at some point, they may have to make an unpleasant company-wide announcement. Give your HR managers the skills they need to manage difficult conversations confidently and effectively.
  • Understanding emotions: Talking about confidential issues or performance can feel quite personal for many employees and, as a result, the situation can be emotionally-charged. Knowing how to understand, acknowledge, and handle different emotions correctly gives your HR professionals another powerful skill to draw upon.
  • Leadership: Leadership skills are something every employee in an organization can and should strive for. But as the link between the workforce and management, it’s particularly important for HR managers to be able to model effective and impactful leadership. And to identify and nurture it in others. From confidence to humility, delegation to dealing with uncertainty, resilience to inspiring others, build skills that elevate average HR leaders into great ones.

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2. Playing a strategic role within the organization

At first sight, the role of HR seems more transactional. For example, they post job ads, fill out employment contracts, process payroll, send a report to the board about headcount and compensation predictions, and so on.

But all those tasks have a deeper impact. For example, an HR manager who designs and oversees the hiring process shapes whether and how new talent will join the company. Likewise, a report to senior management could influence the decision-making, e.g., around employee benefits, L&D programs, and team budgets.

To shift from transactional to a more strategic role, HR should focus on skills like:

  • Presentation skills: Whether it’s preparing a budget, delivering new training programs, or building a compelling case for investing in an LMS, presentations play a big part in the world of HR management. Learning how to prepare, structure, set up, and deliver a presentation with impact will benefit both your HR team and the company as a whole.
  • Reporting: Poorly written reports waste time, can be misleading, and may negatively affect business decisions. You can avoid all this by providing training for HR managers that includes learning how to write clear reports, and how to combine and analyze data.
  • Business writing: From sending perfectly pitched emails to candidates and new hires to writing workplace announcements, HR managers have to be able to address different audiences. Influencing everything from employer branding to company strategy a business writing course will give them the confidence and skills to deliver.

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3. Fostering a positive culture

The shared beliefs and values that underpin a company’s culture play a key role in its success. And your HR managers, in turn, play a vital part in defining, delivering, and demonstrating that culture.

It’s important that your training for HR managers includes the skills and knowledge that will help them build a healthy workplace. Every culture’s different. So, pick and choose from the list below:

  • Adapting to innovation: Promoting a culture of active innovation and advancement requires HR managers to lead by example, be creative, and think outside the box. Help them develop innovation skills to drive a culture that embraces change, instead of fearing it.
  • Engaging employees: An engaged workforce brings big benefits such as better job satisfaction, improved health and well-being, higher retention rates, and increased revenue. But an engaged culture doesn’t just happen. It takes effort. And your HR team are your main drivers. An employee engagement course will give them the means and motivation to make it happen.
  • Diversity and inclusion: Supporting a fully inclusive culture isn’t just a nice-to-have, it’s an absolute must-have. Tasked with attracting new and diverse talent to your organization and keeping hold of them, HR manager training must include diversity training which shows them how to be inclusive leaders. Diversity training will help your HR professionals unravel complex issues from recognizing privilege to the concept of unconscious bias.
  • Bullying and violence: A positive organizational culture should have a clearly defined approach against workplace bullying and harassment. Make sure your HR manager training includes all of the information and resources they need to identify and eradicate toxic behaviors.
  • Flexible and remote working: Allowing staff to work remotely can support your business, build resilience, and promote employee wellbeing. If you’re interested in creating a culture that supports flexible or remote work, help your HR team learn about the benefits and practicalities.
  • Well-being: Prioritizing well-being is the first step to achieving a healthy work-life balance and a positive and thoughtful workplace culture. It’s also key to helping employees reach their full potential, both personally and professionally. Your HR team is at the forefront of modeling and promoting well-being, so make sure their HR training courses have this topic in the mix.
  • Talent management: A successful talent management strategy will have a positive impact on your culture and your business. But delivering and driving this strategy to the best of its potential requires skills, insight, and confidence. Which all come from training. Invest in talent management training for your HR managers and you’ll see your business, as well as your employees, reap the rewards.

Keep on moving

Training’s not a tick box exercise. Or at least it shouldn’t be. It’s important that your training for HR professionals continues throughout their time with you. And that it includes both soft and hard skills.

Not only will this make them feel valued, but it will also give them the confidence to push the boundaries and explore new and evolving best practices. And become better communicators, leaders, and cultural ambassadors.

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Christina Pavlou - Former Content Marketing Manager

Christina, ex-Content Marketing Manager at Epignosis, focuses on L&D, diversity, and enhancing workplace well-being. Learn how to improve your work environment. More by Christina!

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