Numerous viral news stories about sexual harassment at work have taken digital networks by storm lately—leading to greater scrutiny of HR practices and policies in the workplace.
Issues around predatory behavior, illegal conduct, and toxic work environments are in the spotlight right now. But the truth is, it's always been important to comply with workplace legislation and foster positive professional relationships...not just to avoid lawsuits, but to ensure work teams can grow and thrive.
These are the goals of an effective human resources strategy. And if you've recently moved into a supervisor or manager role, they are the most important objectives on your new to-do list.
But we're guessing you've received little or no HR training on how to actually build and sustain a thriving team. What new skills will you need to make a smooth transition?
We researched the most important HR skills for new managers, and spoke with Treena Chabot, a Chartered Professional in Human Resources and the Principal Consultant at TREE for Supervisors, to get her take on which competencies matter most.
These are the 5 human resources skills every new manager needs—but few actually have.
1. A strategic approach to recruitment and hiring
A detailed job description. Effective tools for pre-screening candidates. A well-researched list of questions to ask in the interview. Knowledge of which questions and topics are legally off-limits.
Assessment tools to determine which candidates will fit best with the company culture and values. Guidelines for determining compensation offers.
These are all key components of a strategic recruitment and hiring process. However, very few new managers have nailed down this process—or have any experience developing a framework from scratch.
Treena points out that there are several issues at play here: objectivity, transparency, and regulatory compliance.
"Supervisors need objective methods and tools, to ensure fairness and compliance in hiring decisions, assigning work, and compensating employees."
Without these tools and methods, you'll be left to rely primarily on gut instinct—a well known trap for hiring managers. At worst, you'll stumble into compliance issues, and find yourself in legal trouble.
HR training in recruitment and hiring best practices is a must for anyone who's responsible for bringing new talent on board.
2. Effective employee onboarding
Hiring a new team member doesn't end with the signing of a contract. Managers and supervisors must also ensure a smooth onboarding process. They need to equip new employees with the tools, training, and resources needed to do their job effectively and comfortably.
In other words, you can't just show the new team member her desk, and then leave her to fend for herself! Your job's not done. You have to help newcomers adjust to their new work environment. That means bringing them up to speed on policies, culture, and everyday procedures.
A good onboarding process covers everything from performance expectations to dress code to the daily work schedule. You'll need to formally introduce the new employee to other team members. They'll need a tour of the facilities. They'll need to know how long lunch is.
From the big picture to mundane details—the onboarding process says a lot about your professionalism as a supervisor. It sets the tone of the workplace, and can have a big impact on your new hire's performance.
3. Performance evaluation & employee growth strategies
If you've never been a manager before, or are new to the field of HR, you may be a bit lost when it comes to performance reviews. How do you approach evaluations? How often should you hold reviews? What exactly should this process look like?
The most effective performance evaluations go both ways. They are an opportunity for managers to assess employees, yes—but there should also be room for employees to voice their concerns and discuss future goals.
Treena emphasizes that employee training, evaluation, and growth all go hand-in-hand...and are directly related to company success as a whole:
"Supervisors need to follow a process that ensures they train for the priorities of the organization, follow employees' growth plans, choose the correct training methods and delivery, and evaluate whether their training is working."
4. Communication and conflict resolution
How much experience do you have successfully mediating disagreements at work? Have you ever had to intervene in a serious conflict between employees? Have you ever had to fire someone?
Even experienced managers struggle with this aspect of employee relations. Many prefer to let team members "work out" disputes among themselves, turning a blind eye to mounting tensions.
Some swoop in with punitive measures and threats—while others ignore the problem with a dismissive attitude. Learning how to bring opposing parties together, and help them work toward resolution, is an absolutely crucial HR skill for new managers.
Treena tell us,
"Supervisors need to ensure employees show civility and respect to each other. They must take employee concerns seriously, manage conflict when it arises, and show employees the purpose and meaning of their work."
A good manager sets (and models) high standards for behavior, professionalism, and performance—and rewards team members who meet those standards.
And should the need arise, they are ready to administrator progressive discipline measures, and legally sound termination processes.
In short, they have a clearly defined leadership style that instills trust and motivates the team—and a grasp of HR compliance needed for sound decision-making. This is not something many new supervisors can achieve, day one on-the-job.
It takes time, effort, and in many cases leadership training, to find your voice and authority as a new leader.
Case in point: Even big, sophisticated companies often fail to train management on progressive discipline and termination procedures. Take a look at this recent case, where Bell Canada was found guilty of wrongful termination, even though their employee clearly broke numerous workplace rules.
5. Business Acumen
How much do you know about the over-arching business goals of the organization you work for? If you want senior leadership to respect your authority, and get on board with your HR strategies, you need to learn how to speak their language.
This includes a deep understanding of clients, ROI, growth strategy, and cost-benefit. You must achieve what some experts call a "dual focus"—the ability to balance company policies and goals, with employee concerns and well-being.
In other words, you'll need to develop business acumen to thrive in your new position. This is a unique challenge faced by anyone who has suddenly moved into an HR manager or team leader role.
Human Resources Training for Professionals
How many of these "new manager" skills do you feel comfortable with? If you have experience in business, a lot of these competencies may feel like second nature.
You already have good instincts when it comes to leading a team—and may simply need some support in optimizing your approach, and ensuring you're compliant with workplace legislation.
Or, you may be building an HR policy from scratch, or moving up in a company that has little or no policy in place. Either way, there is much to gain from honing your HR skills in these 5 key areas.
If you'd like to learn more about HR training, we welcome you to explore the Human Resources Certificate offered online, through Kompass.
Treena Chabot currently teaches the 12-week course, and explains exactly what to expect in class in this interview.
Or, click below to see a detailed program overview and course list. Admissions Advisors are standing by via online chat to answer any questions you may have.