As we've discussed recently, there is a sizable disconnect between both HR and finance departments. There are several key factors contributing to this gap, but one of the largest reasons is differing departmental worldviews.
HR is only now just beginning to accept technology and innovation, which has hampered collaboration in the past. Meanwhile, finance's focus on the future could be seen as an impediment to the teambuilding process. Fortunately, the gap is finally starting to close, especially as HR and finance find new ways to communicate and network.
However, if companies ever want to truly mend this divide and help ensure benefits administration is brought into the 21st century, then the collaboration must continue upward and onward. Part of that process is for HR leaders to take on more of a leadership role, which requires a few essential traits:
Become a presence
Mark Samuels is a long-time journalist covering IT and related industries. In a column for ZDNet, Samuels explained that there are a few essential traits that define any true leader. Samuels is a firm believer in the power of networking and how simple teambuilding can be a way to overcome what he calls a "fear factor" that routinely impedes collaboration. Part of bringing people together is being an expert storyteller. Leaders need to be able to convey ideas in a meaningful way, to build up narratives of ideas and concepts that engage, excite and promote ongoing teamwork. Finally, above all else, leaders need what Samuels calls a "future gaze," or the ability to look beyond the work of the here and now and to what might come down the line. Research and an awareness of the latest trends are vital to becoming a genuine futurist.
Operate with grace
John F. Schierer is the Senior Human Resources Consultant at Smiths Group. In an editorial for Forefront magazine, he explained that part of being an HR leader is to remain humble and act in ways others might not. One such behavior is to be appreciative of those with dissenting ideas, which allows for growth and new understandings to develop. As an extension of that, leaders should let others enjoy the spotlight and let team members take the time to uplift one another as a means of motivation and mutual celebration. It's more than making others feel good, and Schierer fundamentally believes in the idea of ongoing self-improvement. Specifically, people shouldn't be afraid to fail, and the right leader can turn these instances into teaching moments. Lastly, leaders shouldn't avoid tasks they're uncomfortable with, as this teaches others to continually challenge themselves.
Get a great start
Courtney Nguyen is a long-time HR professional. In an essay for the consulting group Uniquely HR, Nguyen explained that most effective leaders begin with a solid foundation. By that, she means it's important to get started on the right foot, which often involves building the kind of team you can work with. You want people who don't necessarily agree with you at all times, but who have similar working styles or approaches to business. To do just that, Nguyen believes leaders must exemplify a sense of vulnerability and flexibility, to be sensitive to the needs and ideas of their team members and not be set in every habit about the business. That takes recognizing you're not always going to be right, and leaders must be willing to constantly learn and grow by taking inspiration and guidance from other experts they respect.
Build up a support system
Several experts, including Samuels and Schierer, have explained the importance of setting a good example as a defining trait of an HR leader. However, as the HR Gazette explained, there are a few other vital considerations to keep in mind. All of the best leaders recognize that they're not an island of themselves, and they instead rely on staff for essential support. You should actively seek out feedback from your team at all times, and these insights can help guide your decision-making processes and help you further reevaluate your own efforts. You should also rely on certain team members to help mentor the remaining employees, which can help you further handle your many leadership responsibilities. A joint study between Harvard University and the University of Virginia found that people who'd been mentored not only had better job prospects but noticeably higher rates of career satisfaction.
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