Four essential skills for the HR professional of the future

Four essential skills for the HR professional of the future

I came across an article directed at the Chief Information Officers, in other words the IT leader, which talked about the skill sets the CIO of the future will need to have to be most effective. Not too surprisingly this skill set works well for the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) as well. In fact they work well for the HR professional at all levels. I have written about each of these skill sets in the past but thought it would be constructive to revisit them.

The skill set

Mark Samuels, writing for ZDNet, says that there are four skill sets that every CIO needs to have to be successful in that role. These include:

  • Being a storyteller
  • Be a futurist
  • Being a team player
  • Being a networker.

I think you can see that these skill sets can apply to most leadership positions, but I think they are critical to HR.


Samuels says that CIOs need to be able to tell a story that has a happy ending for the business. Storytelling has been around a long time. It was how people passed on information and got others involved in what was happening. In my post Storytelling as the ninth HR competency I contend that good storytelling is an essential leadership skill. You have to be able to paint a “word picture” that will convey the message you have. You may not always have a happy story to tell, but you have to be able to help people see how things may end in the best possible way given the circumstances. Well-crafted stories can excite, involve, and explain things that numbers and reports often can’t. I give you some tips about becoming a better storyteller in my post.

Being a futurist

Those of you that know my writing know that this is what Future Friday is all about. Samuels tells his CIO readers that sometimes they have to “future gaze.” This means that you put down the reports, push aside the current problems and look ahead at what the future may hold. My many blog posts about my program of 7 Steps to being a practical HR futurist, talks about how you have to follow trends and then start creating scenarios that might help you construct possible futures. This actually requires that future gazing and storytelling skills. Being a futurist requires someone to be more widely read so that they can be aware of trends, but I give tips on how you might do this and make it manageable enough to fit into your workweek.

Being a team player

This message is probably not as foreign to CHROs as it is to CIOs, but it is an important skill. In my post The Key to a Successful Team: Lessons for HR I talk about the importance of selection and development. You can take a tip or two from John Schuerholz, a highly successful baseball leader. As Samuels says smart leaders “spend more time engaged with the rest of the business and working with external service partners.” That works for HR as well. HR needs to climb out of its silo of existence.

Being a networker

Samuels talks about the importance of a network to get things done. This is as equally important to the CHRO. Many people may be hesitant to network internally with HR because of a “fear factor”, but that has to be overcome. In my post Networking: An Essential Skill in a Successful HR Career (and every other career too) I talk about the importance of networking both inside and outside the company. In my post Five Networking Tips to Make You More Effective in 2012 I offer tips that are as effective today as in 2012.

Following the suggestions that Samuels and I offer can improve your skills in HR leadership. Let me know if  you have any other suggestions.


Being on time: A personal rant

by Michael Haberman on July 21, 2016 · 0 comments

Being on time is important.

Being on time is important.

I have always been a stickler about time, at least my time. I don’t know if it was because I was the son of a sergeant or the fact that in HR I had to deal with tardy employees. Whatever the reason I think it is important to be on time almost all the time. I am not the only person to think so.

The easy stuff

The website The Art of Manliness (yes, I still feel as if I have something to learn) tells of the time concern of George Washington. One quote that most HR professionals can identify with says “..when Washington’s secretary arrived late to a meeting, and blamed his watch for his tardiness, Washington quietly replied, ‘Then you must get another watch, or I another secretary.’” Famous Michigan coach Bo Schembechler, in his book, Bo’s Lasting Lessons: The Legendary Coach Teaches the Timeless Fundamentals of Leadership said “I figured this was the easy stuff, and if we couldn’t show up on time, looking right and acting right, we weren’t going to be able to do anything else.”

Sign of respect

When I was a practicing recruiting manager I would schedule my day to see as many people as necessary. It was impractical to push my schedule to accommodate someone who was late to the scheduled interview time. I made it a practice to be on time for them. I felt that they thought their time was more important than mine. I still think that today.

We all only have a limited amount of time each day. For me to waste that valuable resource, either mine or someone else’s is a sign of disrespect. It says to me “I am more important than you.” I don’t like it in contacts, I don’t like it in speakers, I don’t like it in entertainers.


Naturally there are instances where being late is unavoidable. I have no control over someone else causing a wreck that ties up traffic. However, today we all carry phones and can call to let someone know that we are going to be late. Where I live construction traffic makes a regular mess of getting around. Even when I allow extra time to get some place it is not always assured, but I don’t leave my party hanging. Be courteous and allow them the opportunity to do something with the time you have scheduled but are unable to make.

I used to work with a guy that was always bad with his time. He just did not pay attention. He did think he was more important. He would leave the office at the time he was supposed to be somewhere and he asked his assistant to call the person and tell them he was caught in traffic. He never called, that would have made him a liar. So he had the assistant lie for him. I always felt bad for her.

Well that is my rant. I don’t like to be late, and yes I understand the social norm of “fashionably late” but in my opinion it does not work in business. Perhaps you have a different take. Many people do. Tell me what you prefer.


Three great HR posts for Wednesday

by Michael Haberman on July 20, 2016 · 0 comments

Three blog posts to inform and educate you.

Three blog posts to inform and educate you.

Today is a small collection of posts I think you should read. Great stuff from great authors. Reading these will make you a better HR professional.

First up is a great post from Jon Hyman at the Ohio Employers Law Blog. In Developing an anti-harassment culture is key to stopping workplace harassment Jon talks about the importance of having a culture that is free of harassment. Unfortunately sexual harassment appears to be on the rise and government agencies are enforcing the anti-harassment laws to much greater extent. Jon offers great tips to promote best practices in harassment prevention and investigation.

The second post comes from Robin Shea who teaches us that the EEOC can sue us just for lousy recordkeeping, in Applicant tracking and the EEOC: “You can SUE us for that?” Many of the companies I have audited would be dismayed to know that. It is not just messy paper files that can get you in trouble, but also electronic records. The interesting thing is what basis the EEOC sued under. Click above to find out.

The third post was written by Eric B. Meyer. I had a chance to see Eric at the SHRM16 conference. He was hard at work writing his blog. This one post deals with something all FMLA eligible companies need to have… a proper notice. In Your FMLA notices may be defective if… Eric tells us about an important statement that must be included in your notices to employees. Click the link to find out what that important statement is.

There you have it, three highly informative posts that should make rethink some of the things you are currently doing.


Team Building in the Great Outdoors

by Michael Haberman on July 19, 2016 · 0 comments

The group that plays together works better together.

The group that plays together works better together.

Today’s post is from my friends at 

Building camaraderie with your co-workers is an important piece of a healthy working environment — it helps create a stronger and more communicative team. One of the many enjoyable ways to build camaraderie is by heading out to the great outdoors. It gives each person a chance to shine and possibly teach or learn something new within the group. Plus, it’s a great way to blow off steam and reduce stress. Scheduling an annual outing gives employees something to look forward to each year, and creates excitement in the office as the date approaches. If you’re in need of ideas to do with your team, consider one of the activities below.

Sink or Swim

Have you or your boss ever used this term? What if you and your teammates were stuck on a desert island and the only way off was to build a boat? The build-a-boat activity is a great team-builder — not only will employees work together to build a vessel, but they’ll have the added excitement of racing it around a designated course. To ensure safety, host the event at a body of water that is flat, like a lake or resort pool. Split your employees up into teams and equip them with the materials and blueprints to build a boat. You can hire a facilitator to guide the mission of building the boat to bring the teams to safety. It is a great practice in delegation, communication and teamwork to reach the common goal.

Shoot to Succeed

Taking your team to the shooting range is a great stress reliever. It enables those with gun safety experience to step forward and partake in a leadership role that may not be available to them in the work place. Make a friendly competition out of target practice by rewarding the best shooter with a prize such as added hours of paid time off, a paid lunch out out of the office or be allowed to go home early on a Friday. A prize may be just enough incentive to see your team members meet the challenge. Remember, take all safety precautions necessary by ensuring you have the correct safety equipment and firearm accessories.

Race to the Finish

Signing up for an organized race can be both challenging and rewarding for everyone involved. It promotes fitness in the workplace and can result in employees adopting healthier habits (not to mention lower health insurance rates for the company). By having your teammates set a goal for themselves, it enables them to work hard to reach it. It also influences you and your co-workers to send positive messages to each other to encourage them to reach the goal they have set for themselves. Getting your team out of their comfort zones will allow them to think differently and realize they can get over that hill (physically or mentally) with a little training and help from a friend. Start with something small, like a 5K — it is not likely that you will see much interest from your team in running a half marathon off the bat.


What are you doing to encourage serendipity and collaboration?

by Michael Haberman July 18, 2016

Tweet The word serendipity was created by Horace Walpole in 1754 to describe the ‘faculty of making happy and unexpected discoveries by accident.’ Most of us think of serendipity as an accident. Fortunately, it generally has a positive connotation. It implies a lucky discovery that may improve a condition. But have you ever thought about […]

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Future Friday: Can Crowdsourcing be a solution or be a problem?

by Michael Haberman July 15, 2016

Tweet By now all of you have heard of crowdsourcing. If you haven’t here is the definition from Miriam-Webster “the process of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, especially an online community, rather than from employees or suppliers.” There are numerous things accomplished through crowdsourcing and […]

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The NLRB trashes positive workplaces as being unfriendly to unions

by Michael Haberman July 14, 2016

Tweet In what can only be described as an absurd decision the NLRB has punished a company for having a “positive workplace” statement in their employee handbook. T-Mobile’s language This case involved the communications company T-Mobile which has union employees. According to attorney Christopher Grey, of  Wickens, Herzer, Panza, Cook & Batista Co. “The NLRB […]

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The price of HR compliance goes up again!

by Michael Haberman July 13, 2016

Tweet I mentioned the other day that OSHA was increasing the amount they could now fine you. Well their partner in the Department of Labor decided that was a good idea and jumped on the bandwagon! Effective August 1, 2016 The DOL’s so called Interim Final Rule will take effect on August 1, 2016.  The […]

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by Michael Haberman July 12, 2016

Tweet Today’s post was written by Ryan Jenkins. Ryan is  an internationally recognized speaker and trainer who helps organizations better lead, engage, and market to Millennials and Generation Z. He also shares his top-ranked generational and future of work insights as an columnist. Unlike many people who write about Millennials he actually is one. […]

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Safety Incentive plans are now a thing of the past!

by Michael Haberman July 11, 2016

Tweet If you have ever worked at a manufacturing firm or a construction company you understand the importance of having a safe workplace. Accidents and resultant injuries are expensive in both human and monetary costs. As a result safety incentive programs to encourage and reward safe practices, also known as “no lost time days” programs, […]

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