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HRM roles and how they are changing

how human resource roles are changing

If we’re honest, the Human Resources department has always had a slight ‘stigma’ amongst employees. They’re often seen as the ‘police department’ of an organisation; associated with hiring, firing, issuing warnings and handling grievances. Employees believe HR is watching their inputs; ready to strike with a performance appraisal that’s less than favourable. Thankfully, the HR department pay the salaries!

However, this stigma is about to be obliterated. The role of HR in organisations is being revolutionised rather rapidly, and the changes are sure to surprise you. Let’s take a look at the transformations we can expect within the HR department:

From hiring and firing to empowering, engaging and supporting

HR will no longer be seen as the department responsible for hiring and firing. The future of HR sees the department playing a key role in employee and organisational growth; consolidating the two elements to ensure employees are heard, valued and supported throughout their journey with the organisation. Modern-day HR responsibilities will largely focus on strategy and development to create an inspiring, uplifting employee experience.

From the ‘police’ of the organisation to the mentors and coaches

The HR department has long since been viewed as the department that enforces rules and leans towards the side of the organisation, rather than the workforce. This mindset has shifted, with the HR department now being the place to go for career advice, guidance and feedback. The modern-day HR department has the organisation, as well as the employees’ best interests at heart; and is now seen by employees as the place to go to to voice concerns and seek assistance, instead of being the place to shy away from, and feel intimidated by.

From eluding technology to relying on technology

The use of advanced technology was not always a driving factor in the HR department, however, as technology has evolved, as well as the nature of the department; there is a need for advanced technologies to streamline processes and foster growth. The use of new tools like big data and analytics, is giving the department a better understanding of employee behaviour; further assisting in employee motivation strategies and employee experience.

From having little impact on strategy to having an immense impact on strategy

For many decades the HR department was excluded from most organisational strategy exercises and decision-making efforts. Previously, the department was directed by top management and was told what to do, with little say on most company matters. Nowadays, the department is fully involved and has a significant impact on organisational strategy. They are seen as the voice of the company – speaking on behalf of the workforce; ensuring employees are considered during each stage of the decision-making process.

From meeting the basic needs of employees to creating an employee experience

HR no longer just meets the basic needs of employees; such as issuing employee contracts, paying salaries, or drawing up performance appraisals. The focus of the department has shifted from an admin mindset to a growth and experiential mindset. The department is now also responsible for creating an inspiring employee experience, and office culture in order to retain good staff and improve productivity and performance.

From focusing on employee inputs to focusing on employee outputs

Instead of honing in on employee inputs and what needs to be done, the modern-day HR department is now shifting their focus to employee outputs. This means employees are given more control over what they do and how they perform tasks, and only their outputs are analysed. This encourages motivation and seeks to improve performance in a less controlling manner.

From annual performance appraisals, to real-time feedback

Another way HR is improving employee experience is through real-time feedback. This has/is taking the place of performance appraisals, which are drawn up and analysed at a specific time during the year. It’s a much more ‘approachable’ method, and reduces the stress and anxiety associated with performance appraisals – many employees believe this exercise to be intimidating; which of course does more harm than good when it comes to motivation and company culture. Real-time feedback gives employees the chance to correct their shortfalls in the moment, rather than have them brought up later down the line. This method improves communication and relieves the feeling of being ‘watched’ or analysed.

From filling gaps in jobs to nurturing talent and enhancing careers

HR no longer looks for ‘placeholders’ for vacant roles. Now, as much as they seek to find the perfect person to perform the role, they also concern themselves with the way in which the role will serve the individual’s career development. Through nurturing talent, building skills and unlocking the potential within employees, they further create an environment of growth, built on upliftment and empowerment.

Become part of the revolution! Sign up for our Human Resource Management online short course

Human Resource Management Skills for Non-HR Managers

human resource management guide

Have you heard the statement ‘people are the most important assets’, when referring to an organisation? I’m sure you have, and even if you haven’t, it’s likely you believe this statement to be true. Whether you’re a Human Resource Manager, a Line Manager, or even a Team Leader you’re aware of the value people add to a business. They’re invaluable components who move the business forward. It’s safe to say that without good people the organisation would certainly collapse.


“People can exist, indeed did exist for thousands of years, without companies. But companies cannot exist without people.” — Lazlo Bock

If people really are the most important asset, doesn’t it make sense that each person who finds themselves in a leadership role should understand basic HR practises? Understanding how to manage staff challenges, how to successfully drive employee motivation, how to improve staff retention and how to hire good people, should not be left up to the Human Resource department alone, but instead should be a prerequisite for managers across the board.

The benefits of strengthening your HR skills as a non-HR manager:

Before we emphasise the benefits of strengthening your HR skills as a non-HR manager, let’s first understand the general responsibilities of a manager. You may notice that almost every managerial function involves the staff that are being managed.

People-focused responsibilities that managers are called to perform:

  1. – Staff management: managers are required to interview, hire, and train new employees.
  2. – Communicate: managers act as the communication vessel between top management and employees.
  3. – Delegate: effective managers identify strengths within their team, and delegate tasks accordingly.
  4. – Motivate: a manager is required to encourage and further motivate staff, to increase productivity and performance.
  5. – Enforce company policy: managers enforce company policy, creating an environment built on accountability, responsibility and respect.
  6. – Train: managers are required to devise training strategies, to train employees on new technologies or systems that being are introduced.
  7. – Evaluate: managers evaluate employee performance and analyse data to ensure goals are being met.

Do you agree that the role of a manager requires a certain level of skill in human relations and people management? The manager does not perform their core responsibilities without interacting, managing and involving the people beneath them.

How you will benefit from strengthening your HR skills:

  1. – Understand people and personalities to ensure your staff management strategies are optimised
  2. –  Learn effective recruitment and selection techniques to ensure you build high-performance teams that’ll accelerate growth
  3. –  Devise and develop winning training strategies to get the most value out of your team
  4. – Understand performance evaluation techniques, and learn how to strengthen performance and rapidly improve employee motivation
  5. – Deal with grievances and disciplinaries in line with legalities

A good manager becomes an excellent manager when their HR skills are just as strong as their technical and conceptual skills. Through their basic understanding of HR, their team will be positively impacted; aiding further growth of the department and the business as a whole.

Developing HR-related skills will advance your career in management:

“Having good people skills means maximising effective and productive human interaction to everyone’s benefit”, says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant; How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job. “People want to connect on a humane level in the office; the alternative is a sterile environment with low productivity. So, the more you demonstrate these abilities, the faster your career will advance.”

She goes on to say:

“Given the choice between a savvy job candidate or, similarly, an employee seeking promotion – the one with excellent people skills and less technical ability will usually win the prize versus the converse.” She adds that “having good people radar is harder to teach than technical skills, but is a requisite for long-term, effective leadership.”

An HR dilemma: hiring the perfect candidate or upskilling an existing employee?

hiring the perfect candidate

As a manager, at some point, you may have thought to yourself  “I have a great performing team, but they lack the level of expertise we require to grow”. In such instances, conducting a skills assessment of your current staff complement can be beneficial. Perhaps you need to hire new employees or upskill existing ones. Upskilling employees is definitely the better way to go as they become greater assets to your organisation.

Conducting a skills gap analysis will not only help you identify these and other imbalances in your company, it will identify current employees with the potential and necessary skills required to fill a role. Recognising potential is key, as an employee may not have all the desired attributes to adequately fill the role, but with some level of upskilling, it’s possible they can become a success. At some point, you will have to answer the question: “Do I choose to hire the perfect candidate or upskill an existing employee?”.

Benefits of upskilling

It can be very beneficial for an organisation to have employees that have the ability to wear many hats. This is especially true in smaller companies, where there may not even be an HR department responsible for the hiring and administration of staff. Having a key employee with formal HR training can also ensure that you are covered for HR-related situations. Another great example would be managers and supervisors who are tasked with recruiting. Often, managers and supervisors are not adept at recruiting as they may not have the necessary training to conduct such a task. Enrol in a course to learn new skills that can help your organisation overcome these issues.

A recent Randstad (2017) study showed that 75% of global respondents feel they need more training and/or education to stay up to date.  71% are looking for more vocational training and 49% for the training of personal skills. The study also showed the disconnect between employers and employees in attitudes towards upskilling. The Randstad study further stated that 80% of companies feel they have a responsibility to upskill but have no plans or programmes in place.

Recognition breeds productivity

Like Uncle Ben said: “With great power comes great responsibility” and this is what employees are seeking. They are not looking to upskill themselves merely to improve their circumstance. An employee that feels engaged is critical to a productive and efficient organisation.

There is the fear that an upskilled employee will at some point recognise that they have a desired or marketable skill, and would want to leave your organisation.  The truth is that this is always a risk but by recognising their potential and investing in them you will inspire loyalty and their long term personal investment in your organisation.

The most important lesson I learnt in HR

lesson in hr

‘People are our greatest asset’, is a phrase that can be loudly heard from the sky’s of high-rise glass boardrooms to the canals of mine-shafts beneath the earth’s surface. Conglomerates to small enterprises, sole proprietors to corporations, ‘people first’ is the vision, mission statement and goal of most businesses. Especially when you play in a field like Human Resource Management, you need to value people. 

People first

Learning how to manage and lead people is a daunting task. You will win some and lose some. You will have those that will walk the line with you and those who will cross the line. Most of us move from subordinate to superior positions based on knowledge and expertise in our field of work. Rarely, is it based on our people skills or the ability to oversee fellow colleagues.

So why is it then, that certain businesses put so much emphasis on ‘people first’. Simple answer: as a human being, it is taken for granted that you should just be able to manage other humans because you are a nice person, or you get along with everyone. Well, manager or not, we know it is just not that easy – help is required.

Listening to understand

As a manager, you need never forget that the only way you can own this title is if you have people to manage. It is imperative that you keep your people content, thus allowing you to keep your position.

So how do you keep your staff working to the best of their ability? In my opinion – understand them. Delve into their environment, culture, and learn what makes them who they are. It’s something we shouldn’t take for granted in a country like South Africa, where cultures differ in unique and meaningful ways.

From experience, people want to talk about themselves; they want to be heard, so allow them. This will give you a more intimate understanding of what makes them tick, and allow you to build on their strengths. I learnt this through many years of formal education and leadership experience. HRM (Human Resource Management), is a subject that takes a lot of experience and self-reflection in order to put people first.

Don’t wait till you’re on the top

Junior and middle management have or want to enhance their knowledge of Human Resources. They want to be able to lead successfully, however, it should be a global top-down approach. Big shot CEO’s, Board Members, everyone in their ivory tower, should harness the expertise of human resource management because we forget, they manage people, too. How do we trust a manager when he/she doesn’t have the knowledge to manage the company’s greatest resource – Human beings?

It starts, not when you are in a position of power, but when you want to begin the journey to become powerful. Knowing how to manage the people in your work circle is not only going to make doing your job rewarding, it’s going to springboard you to the next level of success.

The Human Resource Management short course for non-HR managers, coupled with your own experience in management, will consolidate what you know as a manager, but it will also give you the confidence to lead your organisation, so you can make the claim honestly, ‘I put people first!’.

by Nolen Naidoo, Former Head of Sales – MasterStart

Nolen Naidoo – Passionate about Business Management, with a particular focus on Operations and Human Resources. Nolen functioned as the Head of Sales at MasterStart, training and assisting his team in enhancing their sales and operational skills.

Nolen previously lead the outbound sales division for large corporations in South Africa and the United Kingdom, consisting of a staff complement of over 300 sales agents and management personnel. He boasts an impressive breadth of sales experience in markets as diverse as UK, Australia, America and South Africa.

Motivating people to excellence

motivating your team

Employee motivation is important when management is looking to meet the company’s goals. This is especially important when wanting to achieve higher levels of output. Watch an enthralling talk by Cheryl Ferguson, music clinician, adjudicator and guest conductor, on motivating people to excellence. Delivered with great energy and passion and filled with insights that you can easily translate into work and life. But don’t just take our word for it, give the video below a watch and get ready to be inspired. We were so inspired, we developed 4 steps you can build on to create your own personalised strategy to motivate your employees.

Step 1: Define a vision

People can accomplish amazing things when they have a clearly defined vision. With vision, people are able to put into place exact steps to take in order to reach their goal. Without this clarity, people will venture aimlessly not knowing whether they are making any progress and, therefore, slowly lose motivation and feel that the task is hopeless.

Step 2: Give employees the resources they want and need

You wouldn’t eat your soup with a fork, so why would you expect an under-resourced employee to perform? Lack of resources is a common and often overseen, barrier to progress. Resources could be money, personnel, time and support. If you are unsure about what you’re lacking, don’t be afraid to ask your employees.

Step 3: Communicate effectively

Often when communicating, something goes wrong. We say one thing which gets misinterpreted, leading to misunderstandings, frustrations and conflict. What you need to consider is the intentions and emotions behind the shared information, as people tend to pick up on non-verbal messages. One also needs to listen in a way that ensures the person speaking feels that they were heard and understood or validated. Effective communication goes beyond the mere act of exchanging information.

Step 4: Recognise progress

Don’t just extend hollow gestures of recognition, like “good job” or “nice work on that task”. Be specific with your compliments. It can give more depth to them and make employees feel that you truly recognise their efforts.

In the talk below on motivation, Cheryl Ferguson provides the perfect anecdote in her talk that sums this idea up, “… if you say something like the way you played that note at the end of the second movement made my heart flutter and it took me back to the moment I saw my son, Nate, for the first time. Their eyes get wide and they say: well, thank you, excellent!”

Understanding and implementing these steps in your organisation can help you deepen your employees’ connection to your business as well as build greater mutual trust and respect.