8 Things Great HR Leaders NEVER do – EVER!

Now, more than ever, in the glorious history of globalization and shared services, HR leaders are at the forefront of business transformation. Gone are the days when HR personnel are relegated to basic back-office functions and are only ‘activated’ when someone resigns or when a new headcount needs to be filled in. These days, especially in the age of information technology and valuable human capital, HR leaders are arguably the key transformational leaders that CEOs and CFOs rely upon to help improve – immensely – the company’s competitiveness, and ultimately, its bottom line.

In a report entitled "Southeast Asia Human Capital Trends 2015" by Deloitte, it was made clear that "global business and HR leaders, including those in Southeast Asia, must adapt to a new world of work that requires tailoring human capital solutions to the culturally diverse markets and evolving business environments." This means that with the rising cultural homogeneity among companies operating in Asia and the rest of the world, HR leaders and employees should adapt and think more ‘global’ in their approach to business transformation.

While exceptional HR leaders do a lot of things, they are also known for NOT doing some things, which make them great.

1. A great HR leader NEVER operates in silo. He always thinks how a decision will impact the business. In today’s independent, flat organizations, few people are successful on their own. Success in today’s organization involves the commitment and hard work of many people who may or may not work as part of the same function areas. The role of a good HR leader is to set the stage so that the team can be successful at working in an integrated and interrelated way across the organization. He tries to work his way to the top, reaching out to the top executives on what new methods or approach the organization is taking, informing them of the human capital strength available as well as carry his people along on what need to be done.


2. A great HR leader NEVER thinks of monetary compensation as the only key factor for employee engagement. Money doesn’t buy all the happiness nor give the right motivation to enable an employee do his job effectively. There are several other key factors affecting the effectiveness of an employee and it takes a smart HR leader to find out what are these. Maslow’s hierarchy of need pinpoint various stages of human motivation. A good HR leader meets his employees at the various stages of this hierarchy to enable their effectiveness.

3. A great HR leader NEVER neglects the importance of technology. He always thinks, not only on how to improve human capacity, but on how to incorporate technology into business activities. Technology impacts every employee. Technology no longer remains the domain of the employee tasked with performing administrative work. Today, IT provides rich analytics necessary to forecast financial performance, analyze customer and supplier dynamics, monitor work force behavior, track product performance, etc. More importantly, complex transaction management requires sophisticated use of tools to analyze problems, preferences, and historical patterns. Whether an employee is adjudicating a claim, managing product development, or collecting overpaid funds, he or she must have the technological skills to perform the necessary research and take action.

4. A great leader NEVER complains when offered "a seat at the table" to engage in strategy. They embrace such opportunity with great enthusiasm, clear strategy and focus. Most board of directors always hope to carry their employees along with their vision and mission as well as make them familiar with the strategies they intend to apply in achieving them. The head of HR is assumed to take a seat in this kind of meeting and it is only wise that he grasp all that is being said so as to strategize on how to motivate the rest of the staff and at the same time, provide a meaningful feedback to the management on the plans’ feasibility and effectiveness.

5. A great HR leader NEVER ignores the relevance of changing trends. A noticeable trend expressed frequently by CEOs was the expectation that HR leaders have a solid grasp on how to use social media, mobile apps and so on, to communicate with and recruit employees. This ranges from the desire that HR establish best practices around employee use of social media to leveraging social media platforms as an engagement and communications tool.

6. A great HR leader NEVER prioritizes the immediate over the strategic. He does not take on whatever shows up on his schedule. This only shows he has little control over his own time and focus. Responding to emails almost instantly, having countless meetings, and numerous brief conversations eat up huge amount of energy and time. A good HR leader knows how to keep a balance between his focus on internal and external affairs. He also keeps in focus the organizational objectives and manages his time well enough so he can align the organizations’ HR goals with set strategies.

7. A great HR leader NEVER ignores organizational brand image. He works together with all other departments in making the organization’s brand perception to the external world attractive. This is aimed at both clients and potential employees who might otherwise have a wrong impression about the company and what it stands for.

8. A great HR leader NEVER neglects the importance of people regardless of any business motivation. As much as the organization’s goal is important, the HR leader never tries to aid the business to achieve this at the detriment of the employee. That is, they aren’t just goal-oriented, they are, more than anything, people-oriented.