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Tuesday, June 05, 2012

HR Needs to Communicate Better


I say this with all sincerity, conviction and concern for all of us HR practitioners and the people we serve. We, HR practitioners need to make it part of our personal development plan to improve the way we communicate and we must do it deliberately  and with continuity. Our effectiveness and success depend on it.  I'm not talking about HR Managers here. Let's start real early. If you are an HR assistant dreaming of doing well in this profession, start right now!

Check Your Grammar
Let's start with the very basic.  Let's ask ourselves or some reliable others what our common grammatical pitfalls are. Learning starts with having the humility to accept that we're not perfect and that some of things we write are so horribly incorrect, that they fail to deliver the message we wish to convey.  Writing skill is so important because we churn out so many written communications that also become part of the company's documentation of policies. Filipinos are harsh in the way they judge people who commit blatant and frequent grammatical errors. They question the person's credibility and intelligence when they see too many errors in their written communications. If you feel that grammar is your waterloo, I suggest that you begin your personal journey towards improvement right away.  It's actually easier now. When in doubt about the terms you use, the tenses and the agreement between subject and verb, Google it.

Presentation Skills
HR is expected to occasionally come forward and talk to a big (or small) audience. We are expected to present with eloquence some important HR-related information. More often we talk not just to inform but to sell, to persuade and to engage. We can succeed only if we are able to effectively deal with the three hurdles called ethos, pathos and logos (credibility, emotion and logic). We can't effectively do that if we talk incoherently and go around in circles. The best HR people I know have mastered the stage and leave their audience convinced, inspired and motivated to do what needs to be done. If you wish to be in the same league, be a good talker. Toastmasters, provide a great venue for improving your public speaking skills.

Interpersonal Communication
TACT. Now, that's one important word we in HR need to keep in mind. We have to make it our second nature (if it is not our nature) to speak in a respectful manner no matter who we are talking to. Just to overemphasize... Specially when we are talking with employees. Lose the condescending tone, lose the snide remarks,  and for Pete's sake stop posting in social media how you are able to put people in their places  by scaring the crap out of them! Being aggressive doesn't make you credible nor respectable. It makes you scary! Credibility and respect comes from being able to do what you say you are going to do even without the scary tone (and face). However, don't go the opposite way. Passiveness doesn't work either. Go for "assertiveness". If you are not familiar with the term, go ahead and look it up and learn how to use it.

Bottom line, Great HR people are effective communicators. I urge you to begin your journey to greatness by improving on your communication skills.

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