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Thursday, November 04, 2010

Honing Your HR Communication Skill

This is something that a lot of people will deny.  I've seen many HR practitioners struggle in their roles because of their failure to communicate effectively. See if any of these are familiar:
  • Management disapprove proposals after proposals for well meaning HR projects
  • Employees are either unaware or griping about HR policies
  • HR is the source of organization's intrigues and bad politics
  • Employees laughing at how funnily incoherent HR memos are.
  • Employees find it painful to listen to HR presentation.
We are not just talking grammar here. If you've been reading my blog, you'd know I have no authority in that area. If you are looking for impeccable English, go to Grammar Pulis. It is however, undeniable that HR professionals need to achieve a decent level of English communication skill both orally and in written form.The amount of defensiveness I get whenever I discuss this need with someone is unbelievable. The reaction I get range from incredulity to making excuses on how they have no time to address this need. I find it sad that people who are in charge of developing others resist their own need for development. Don't you?

If you are an HR professional and you acknowledge your own need to enhance your skill in communication, consider these suggestions:
  • Improve your grammar skills everyday. Have a dictionary or thesaurus handy. Know how to use the web for this purpose. When in doubt about the proper way of saying it, Google it. There are hundreds of website that can help you say things right. See ExeQserve's English as a Business Language Workshop
  • Learn to write and speak in business terms. Many HR proposals fail because of the inability of the writer to justify the cost of the project. I often see companies go to the lowest training service bidder because HR failed to justify the cost of a better training program that looks like it costs a little bit more on paper. So, HR needs to learn the skill in proposal making and the necessary preparation for coming up with one that is worth approving. Find a good business writing program that will address this need. See ExeQserve's Business Writing Workshop
  • Hone your public speaking skills. I find the Toastmasters program as a very effective way of helping bumblers progress into professional level speakers. It takes some hard work of course. You can't improve just by sitting in meetings or paying your dues, you have to get yourself in the thick of the action. Deliver speeches play roles, observe your improvement areas, well, improve. Find a local chapter here or Check out my home club, Butter N Toast Toastmasters Club.
  • Learn to follow the code of HR ethics. Know that whatever comes out of your mouth can be taken in a bad way. Learn restraint and honor confidentiality. See my article on HR Ethical and Behavioral Standards.
  • Learn how to be assertive. If you are to serve as an effective internal consultant, you should be able communicate assertively with both management and employees. This means having a heightened listening skill and communicating with tact. Assertive people are confident but but not conceited or obnoxious. You should know the difference between being assertive and aggressive. (See ExeQserve's Assertiveness Training Program)
  • Learn the rudiments of change management and organizational communication protocols. One of the main reasons HR programs fail is because HR professionals keep on ignoring these. When you ignore them you run the risk of getting fragmented buy in and lack of clarity. When that happens, every body loses. HR, Management, the employees, everybody. See ExeQserve's  Change Management Workshop
If it is not obvious enough that your success as an HR professional is hinged on your ability to communicate effectively, let me tell you now that it is. We all need to continually grow the skill. It won't just happen. Have a personal communication skills development plan and follow it.


  1. It is good of you to suggest ways that HR professionals can do to improve their communication skills.

    Keep on sharing your practical ideas Ed.

  2. Good post! HR executive should be well versed from all the perspectives that are stated above for achieving the business' success.

  3. I think HR sometimes fail to see themselves as part of the company, rather viewing themselves as outsiders, and this can most certainly cause communication failures.


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