Communication skills rank among the most important for human resources (HR) personnel, from entry-level generalist to C-level executive (chief human resources officer or chief people officer) on the HR organizational chart. For decades, HR processes were primarily transactional in terms of overall organizational functions and structures. However, recent decades spurred the evolution of HR into a more integrative, strategic business operation, focusing on people, culture and organizational development.
As companies’ HR departments continue adapting to the profession’s changes, HR personnel at all levels need to demonstrate expert communication skills. Whether working with cross-functional teams, leading change or advising partners with insight gleaned from people analytics, communication underlies today’s strategic HR roles.
Advanced HR Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree programs reflect this evolution of the field. For instance, the University of West Florida (UWF) online MBA with an emphasis in HR Management offers comprehensive studies in traditional HR practices and processes as well as modern business subjects like strategy, analytics, process integration, organizational behavior and leadership. The skills and knowledge HR professionals gain from these studies are critical for success in today’s high-level HR roles.
Communication Matters for the HR Team
Good communication drives an HR team’s performance, up and down the personnel structure. HR personnel must be able to express themselves clearly. Depending on the role, they may require skills for speaking comfortably in interviews, in small groups or to large audiences. Some may need writing skills to produce documents such as policies, memos, reports and even social media posts.
Further, regardless of position, all HR personnel must have good listening skills, which are essential to effective communication. Whether answering a simple question on the phone, listening to a concern or conducting a job interview, the ability to listen with empathy is an essential skill for HR personnel. HR personnel help deal with problems employees experience on or off the job, and listening empathetically helps earn their trust.
Communication Matters Inside the HR Organization
HR leaders must know how to communicate across the organization. They should also convey the department’s role, mission and programs to the team members responsible for getting the work done.
When team members are well-informed, they can help establish the department’s value and improve employees’ perception of HR. Plus, HR leaders and team members must clearly communicate HR strategy and methods to employees throughout the organization so that practices across the board align with HR and organizational policies, maintaining clear, unified goals and expectations.
Communication Matters in the C-Suite
Top-level HR leaders communicate frequently with their organization’s top leadership, who expect the HR department to create strategic value by implementing cost-effective programs and delivering a great “employee experience.” This, in turn, can help nurture an engaged, productive workforce and build positive workplace cultures.
Further, whether in executive positions or top management roles, the modern HR leader must understand how to implement HR information systems, automate basic processes and leverage people analytics to gain insight that informs decision-making at the highest levels. HR leadership must know how to translate and communicate this insight to other organizational leaders, furthering integrative data-driven strategy across functions. Without this high-level communication, HR leaders risk losing their stake in helping guide the organization’s strategic direction and choice of programs.
Communication Matters in Strategic Program Implementation
HR strategy often involves leadership’s development of new initiatives, which may consist of implementing new programs, procedures and systems. Implementing strategic initiatives typically includes keeping the following audiences informed throughout projects:
- Executive leadership
- HR staff
- Employees (the HR department’s internal customers)
- Job applicants, job candidates, vendors and others (the HR department’s external customers)
Communication Matters in Developing Effective Relationships
HR leadership can extend their influence across the organization through interdepartmental support. Offering to train supervisors and managers on how to handle routine employee issues is an instance of such support. Additional examples include training for conducting annual performance reviews, coaching employees for performance improvement, reskilling and upskilling employees, implementing DEI practices and assessing the strengths of rising leaders.
Communication Matters in Mitigating Risk
Effective communication can often help resolve issues, pre-empting litigation and potential settlements. It can also minimize the organization’s liability for potentially unfair employment practices. Communicating the organization’s equal employment opportunity policies and documenting decisions properly helps ensure compliance with local, state and federal employment laws. Periodically communicating these policies to leadership and staff can ensure that the workforce understands the organization’s commitment to fair and equal treatment, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability and other factors.
Through advanced study in UWF’s online MBA in HR Management program, HR personnel can develop the communication expertise needed to excel in evolved leadership roles. And with the online model of this degree program, working professionals can put what they learn into practice in real time.
Learn more about UWF’s online MBA with an emphasis in Human Resources Management program.