You Got the Skills to Pay the Bills?

Kathy Rapp Change, Kathy Rapp, Leadership

I’ve got the skills to pay the bills, ya

I got the got the got the skills to pay the bills

I’ve got the skills to pay the bills

Ah what you got, I got the skills to pay the bills

For those who don’t know me, my eclectic mix of music loves includes the Beastie Boys.  This track has multiple interpretations, but its essence is about having the ability to deal with the situations you are in.

I’m often asked about the critical skills needed for the future of HR, specifically in those leading the function.  Much like the Beastie Boys, I view these HR leadership skills as ever-evolving.  Here’s 4 that should be on your short list:

–Risk-Taker:  Increasingly, organizations are looking for HR leaders who aren’t afraid to take risks.  Part of this demand is the desire to create a culture of innovation.  Companies are looking for their employees to think and act like entrepreneurs.  This is in part because we need to build leaders who are agile and quick to adapt to changing business conditions or economic shifts.  HR leaders who take ownership of ideas – audacious or not – and can motivate others to think broadly and big, are drivers of such innovation.  Whether it’s throwing out org charts, championing wearable devices to track performance, or having a tough conversation with the CEO, HR leaders of the future must be comfortable taking risks and showing results.

–Continuous Learner:  HBS professor Clayton Christensen claims half of American colleges will be bankrupt in 15 years and higher education will be disrupted.  Yet the size of the education market in the U.S. is projected to grow to $2 trillion by 2020.  Much of that is driven by on-demand learning and the need for employees to enhance/change their skills.  HR leaders must rethink corporate learning.  They must shift from a top-down learning mentality to a consumer-driven model.  GE has “BrillantYOU“, a marketplace for learning and development, and more organizations are utilizing MOOCs to personalize learning.  There is a rise of microdegrees, badges, apprenticeships, boot camps – all focused on consumer-driven learning.  HR leaders must champion this movement – and do so by setting the example.

–Workforce Strategist:  40% or higher.  That’s the percentage of workers by 2020 who will be called consultants, on-demand workers, freelancers, or those who collectively make up the gig economy.  HR leaders must embrace this new workforce and be planful around how to source, engage and retain them, in addition to traditional full-time employees.  Becoming a true workforce strategist means understanding when, where and how you need talent to achieve business results.  This involves data, predictive analytics, governance and understanding the dynamics of managing a blended workforce.

–GM Mindset:  The in-demand HR leader brings a general management mindset to the table.  This skill involves intimately understanding the business and industry in which you operate, building trust and collaboration across the C-Suite and Board, bringing a tough AND a passionate view of people, and being able to work within and across functions – Sales, Marketing, IT, Finance, Operations, Legal….and HR.  HR leaders gain this skill by stepping out of HR entirely for a period of time, or double/triple hatting their roles in an organization. Sought after CHROs have held transformation roles, marketing titles and/or can go toe-to-toe with operators leading large, complex teams.  They understand life on the other side of the HR desk and work to reimagine the function through the eyes of their customers.

For HR leaders to truly champion future workplaces that are adaptable and shaped by new skills, they must embody risk-taking, continuous learning, workforce strategy and bring a general manager mindset to the game.

What skills y’all gotta pay the bills?