The Skills Needed for Strategic Human Resource Management

Strategic human resource management refers to the well-rounded approach to business and human capital management that HR leaders use to ensure their organizations are successful. Based on the principle that human capital — a phrase used to describe employees’ collective talents, expertise and qualifications — is an organization’s most valuable commodity, strategic human resources leaders need to have certain skills to formulate strategy useful for HR functional and tactical processes.

Critical Thinking Skills

Human resources strategic leaders are entrusted with information, data and projections pertaining to the workforce as well as the entire organization. Consequently, business ethics, principles and discretion are essential skills and characteristics. Strategic management within the context of human resources means HR leaders must have the ability to use their discretion and always put the interests of the company first. Analytical and critical thinking skills are paramount regarding access to confidential information and data. HR leaders also must be cognizant of circumstances that cause inadvertent and unintentional disclosure of information that could disrupt a strategic plan.

Leadership Skills

HR strategic management requires leadership skills, which are fundamental to consensus building, negotiation and day-to-day management of human resources functions. Consensus building — something almost all HR leaders face during their careers — is simpler with the appropriate leadership skills to support the HR expert’s position. For example, delivering a passionate plea for additional human resources funding may be ineffective, unless the HR leader can illustrate to the organization’s executive and finance officers the return on investment in HR functions and the resulting impact on the organization’s bottom line. An HR practitioner with few leadership skills or capabilities would likely be unable to make such an argument for additional HR funding.

Communication Skills

Communication skills comprise more than just the ability to produce well-constructed memos, reports and speeches. Effective HR strategic management depends on another component of communication — listening. Listening to the organization’s human capital and observing employment trends and best practices that successful companies embrace are all part of the communication process. HR strategic leaders’ attention to employee feedback enables better understanding of what employees need from their employer to develop a strategy that supports the organization’s goals.

Business Management Skills

Human resources leaders need to have more than simple knowledge of HR functions and employment and labor law. Strategic HR management involves a well-rounded approach to business and HR. Therefore, business acumen is something HR leaders can’t be without. More and more corporations are hiring human resources leaders who know more about business than they do about human resources disciplines. The reason is because managing human capital from a strategic point of view requires a business foundation.


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