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6 skills HR leaders must establish, cultivate

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HR skillsAspire to become your organization’s top HR executive? Then you’ll need to master six key skills, according to a new study by the Aon Hewitt consulting firm. Based on a survey of 45 chief human resource officers in large, global companies, success in the top HR spot requires establishing a track record in:

1. Making data- and analytics-based decisions. According to Aon Hewitt, this requires focusing not on giving the right answers, but on asking the right questions.

2. Designing, building and assessing shifts in organizational culture. Making sure a company’s culture is moving in the right direction by ensuring leaders’ styles align with the cultural goals.

3. Mapping organization capability needs to the future strategy of the firm. Examining the gap between existing capabilities and the ones needed in the future.

4. Scouting out internal and external talent. Building the critical ability of spotting pools of talent, using a mix of intuition and data and assessment backed insight.

5. Understanding the impact of technology. Being cognizant of the rapid progress in HR technology, particularly SaaS solutions, to improve HR processes and analytic capabilities.

6. Asking organization-specific questions rather than following the herd. Realizing how different practices can be best applied to their own organizational contexts.

Don’t assume that you have an inside track on your company’s top HR job just because you have come up through the HR ranks. More than half of HR executives who participated in the study revealed they are not career HR professionals. Approximately one-third had no background in HR before they assumed their current position.

In fact, diverse business experience was rated one of the key factors driving HR leadership success. Some significant findings:

  • 73% of study participants have changed industries at least once.
  • 24% have taken an assignment in a line role outside of HR to build their business and commercial acumen.
  • 67% have worked and lived abroad, or led global teams and initiatives.

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