Expectations of HR Professionals from HR graduates


By

R. Krishnamurthi
MA, M.Phil, MBA, M.Sc (Psy), DLL, PGDIC, PGDET, FDP-IIMA, KYKO, NLP, DA
Corporate Trainer
NLP Practitioner
Coimbatore
 


Abstract

"Employability" is a word frequently used and at times overused in any conference, workshop, conclave, inaugural address, key note address, valediction, etc. There are a lot of references to research statistics regarding employability in every forum. The references frequently are: just 20% of the graduates or 30 % of the postgraduates are employable.  Another stock phrase is opportunities are plenty in today's employment market but the graduates are not employable. The underlying issue is not employment but 'employability.' There is a paradox. On one hand there are many unemployed educated graduates and postgraduates on the other hand many organizations have inadequate manpower and are on a recruitment spree. Keeping the keepers, Talent war, Fighting attrition, Manpower shortage, Talent poaching are not just the buzz words in industrial or business discussions but concerns of all in industries.

Though all these challenges and issues are at different functional levels, a special study had been carried out to know the qualities and the skills that make management graduates of HR stream employable and excel. A survey of the HR professionals was conducted to gather data for the study. The paper discusses the findings of the study.

Key words: Employability, Qualities, Skills, HR Graduates

Introduction

HR has become a more dynamic function because of the external/market forces and as a result, there has been a paradigm shift in the role of an HR into an integrator and facilitator from that of being an administrator. HR forms the invisible link between the operational level and the top level. It is involved in building an organization. An organization, especially in today's context, needs top or stellar performers. Meritocracy is the rule in HR practices as organizations have understood the importance of expertise of their human resources in delivering results. Moreover, the only differentiating factor between two organizations is the people factor. Employee engagement is the in thing in organizational excellence. HR, as a department, does the job of employee engagement and commitment for an organization. Hence a person who is at the helm of affairs, that is., an HR professional, must possess the relevant qualities and the skills to cross all hurdles to achieve greater heights. This is necessitated as HR is a critical function for organizational and business success.

Methodology

Research Design: Descriptive
Sampling Design: Purposive Sampling
Sample size: 100. The respondents were HR/HRD/Training Managers and General Managers from Manufacturing, Services, IT and Banking.
Data collection method: Interview
Data Analysis: Simple Percentage
1. All the 100 respondents were interviewed by the author.

Objective

To identify the qualities and skills expected from HR graduates.

The HR professionals were asked: What skills and qualities do you look for while recruiting business graduates from HR stream?

Discussion

The responses collected from the respondents were analysed to arrive at the qualities and the skills expected by HR professionals from HR graduates while recruiting for HR department. The qualities and the skills in the order are (Table-1):

S.No

Qualities

Skills

1

Attitude

Communication

2

Passion

Interpersonal

3

Dedication

Presentation

4

Patience

Decision Making

5

-

Mind Reading

                                                                Table-1

Qualities

Attitude

"Attitude is a learned disposition to respond in a consistently favorable/unfavorable manner with respect to a given object," defines Stephen P Robbins. 82% of the respondents felt that attitude is the number one quality needed to succeed as HR professionals. Attitude is contagious. It spreads fast. People catch up your attitude fast. Peale says, "Any fact facing us is not as important as our attitude toward it, for that determines our success or failure." One General Manager said, "The process of recruiting is all about finding the right attitude. Skills can be taught, experience can be gained and qualification can be obtained. But a superior can't teach someone to have the right attitude. That requires a total metamorphosis of an individual's traits." We know actions speak louder than words. HR Graduates must develop positive attitude. Just as a great building stands on a strong foundation, so does success. And the foundation for success is attitude. It is special to HR professionals because people buy your attitude before they buy anything you offer. A study by Harvard University found that when a person gets a job, 85% of the time it is because of their attitude, and only 15% of the time because of how smart they are and how many facts and figures they know.

Passion

"Passion is a strong feeling or emotion or something that is desired intensely. It is an intense emotion compelling enthusiasm or desire for anything and often requires action," defines dictionary.die.net.  68% of the respondents felt that passion is a quality that would help them to be enthusiastic about what they do. Dale Carnegie says, "The day you lose excitement of your job should be the last day of your job." Passion for something makes a person excited about that thing. Passion is also a feeling of unusual excitement or enthusiasm about a subject, idea/person or object.  "These people (HR Graduates) should be passionate about the specialization. At times they get into this area because of somebody's suggestion or out of compulsion. If they take decisions from their hearts they can excel," said an HR professional who was a career counselor as well. The secret of success in any field is the passion for the field.

Dedication

"Dedication is the act of binding oneself intellectually and emotionally to a course of action," www.thefreedictionary.com. It is to commit oneself to a particular course of thought or action. "It is a selfless devotion. I would say wholehearted devotion. The first stage of Servant leadership is dedication" said a Senior Manager- Employee Relations. 62% of the respondents felt that one's ability to dedicate one to serving the people will help one get a sense of satisfaction. "If you ask me about dedication, nowadays people don't know the meaning of it. I may sound rude. But that is the reality. These youngsters are so confused; they don't know what they need. For them the other side of the shore looks greener. Hence you can't expect them to be dedicated," commented a senior professional who does a lot of campus recruitment.

Patience

48% of the respondents expressed that patience is a quality expected from HR professionals. It is needed to deal with different kinds of people in different situations. "The top management expects results immediately. But you cannot do overnight miracles. Especially when you organise training programmes, everybody expects superior delivery from the participants from the next day, if it is a technical programme or overnight transformation in them right after the programme, if it is a behavioural programme. It is not that easy. Any intervention takes time. You cannot keep explaining to people," commented a Senior Trainer. HR is viewed as a necessary evil for an organization. The problem is: being loyal to one's profession and organisation is viewed negatively by the employees. "You are in a predicament. Doomed if you do and doomed if you don't. The challenge is to strike a balance," said a manager who was of the opinion that in spite of all the talk HR had not found its right place in an organisation. But some HR professionals thrive on these challenges. In spite of all these challenges, HR people need to add value from internal customers' perspective to create a feeling of belongingness among the employees.

Skills

Communication

Communication is the number one thing that either makes or mars an organisation. One of the respondents said, "Communication skill is the most important skill for an HR professional as they have to establish and disseminate the goals of an enterprise, develop plans for their achievement, organise Human and other resources in the most effective way, select, develop and appraise members of an organisation, motivate, lead and create a climate in which people want to contribute."  90 % of the respondents rated Communication skill as the number one skill to be honed by HR graduates. 

HR people must be good at cascading the organisational strategic decisions, policies, procedures to the operational levels. They must be extremely good at using different channels of communication organisation wide in line with today's practice of organisation wide corporate communication. They have to do all the functions of communication, viz., persuade, inform, entertain and inspire. Persuading the people who have negative mind set is a challenge. They need to persuade while negotiating. They must also be humorous. At times people take issues seriously and humour lightly. If they reverse them, that is., taking humour seriously and issues lightly, they can get things done better and faster.

Interpersonal 

Interpersonal relationship is mutual fulfilling of needs. Intensity of the relationship depends upon the degree of the need. Needs are: weak, moderate and strong. It is simply a matter of knowing the basics of how to deal with other people, and then making a conscious effort to put those basics into practice.  "The ability to make and manage relationships is the single most important skill for effectiveness," opined a respondent who was General Manger, HRD. A respondent who was a performance specialist and well known for superior performance asserted, "Your accomplishments are only as important in so far as they have an impact on someone. The results of your efforts must be accepted by others." 85 % of the respondents rated interpersonal skills as the number two skill to be developed by HR Graduates. The graduates must be good at building and maintaining relationship at interpersonal (dyad), group, and organisational levels.

Presentation

Most of the experts in the field of executive coaching say that a person's ability to present key information clearly and concisely is critical to their credibility and the respect they earn both internally and externally. 81% of the respondents opined that presentation skill is an important skill that HR graduates must possess. "Presentation is," said a respondent who was Manager Training and Development "fewer slides and more personality." People remember impression but not facts. Impression lasts longer. They remember how you made them feel. Practise the art of supporting facts and information with examples, anecdotes and visual images that leave a lasting impression. Deliver a presentation like Steve Jobs. While most of the presenters deliver information, Jobs inspires the audience. Learn the art of powerful presentations.

Decision Making 

Decision making is a cognitive process that leads to the selection of a course of action among several alternatives. It has gained enormous importance in organisations as there are national and cross cultural differences in organizations. "We are in people business. We understand the implications of diversity. Most of a manager's time is spent in decision making. There are different issues, different people and different contexts. No duplication of decision is possible. Every decision is a fresh decision," expressed a respondent while substantiating the importance of decision making skill for HR Graduates. The view is also supported by 72 % the respondents. Understand that workplace conflicts are part of the day to day affair in an organisation. "Let B schools concentrate on training graduates to think on the spot. They (HR Executives) can't keep looking at their superiors for any decision. There will be loss of credibility from their subordinates" is the suggestion to the graduates by one of the respondents.

Mind reading

Mind reading is "The faculty of discerning another's thoughts through extrasensory means of communication," Answers.com. The ability to read the minds of other people is a must for HR professionals. They deal with emotions of people. They need to understand what is not communicated. The challenge, especially in today's scenario, is to manage work place emotions. This is one method that helps you empathize and build rapport with your human resource. 67% of the respondents considered mind reading as a skill for professional success of HR professionals. HR professionals have to meet all kinds of people and train and develop them into what the industry needs. "People at times, may be it is stretching too much, expect you to realise what is bothering them and acknowledge it," said a respondent who was an Industrial Counselor.

Conclusion

                                              
(Figure-1) Steps to Excellence

                                                                 Figure-1

The Steps to Excellence Model (Figure-1) will help the HR Graduates have a deep understanding of ways and means of achieving excellence. The first stage towards excellence is awareness. The findings of the study will help them gain awareness of the qualities and the skills to be possessed by them. The next stage is to acquire knowledge of the ways and means to inculcate the qualities and hone the skills. The third step is to apply the knowledge acquired to gain experience. A combination of all these will help them gain expertise. Expertise in an area leads to excellence in that area. Let them gain insights from the paper and prepare themselves to live beyond the expectations of HR and other professionals and march towards excellence in HR.
 


R. Krishnamurthi
MA, M.Phil, MBA, M.Sc (Psy), DLL, PGDIC, PGDET, FDP-IIMA, KYKO, NLP, DA
Corporate Trainer
NLP Practitioner
Coimbatore
 

Source: E-mail February 2, 2010

 

         

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