Strategic planning is the most important professional skill an HRD must master in digital times of today. This finding was released by Hays in its recent report titled, ‘DNA of an HRD: The Makings of an HR Leader in Asia’ based on extensive survey of 570 HRDs and a series of in depth face-to-face interviews.
In addition to strategic planning, respondents named five other ‘must-have’ skills for the HRDs in order of importance. They are: stakeholder engagement/influencing, people management, commercial acumen, communication skills and change management skills.
This is because HR-related decisions must be in support of an organisation’s development and growth. A proactive nature was rated among those surveyed as being the most important personal characteristic to help HRDs succeed in their careers.
“The advice from HR leaders is to develop a broad range of skills as no two days are ever the same for an HRD,” says Simon Lance, Managing Director of Hays in mainland China. More than half of respondents (51 percent) say understanding the business inside and out is their top piece of advice for aspiring HRDs.
“Hays has been recruiting HR professionals for nearly 50 years globally. In that time, we have witnessed an unmistakable trend in the need for HR professionals to develop a thorough understanding of every aspect of how the organisation operates in order to truly partner with the business,” says Simon.
Survey respondents said the top business challenge facing HRDs is employee engagement. They expect the bulk of their role in the next five years to be focused on identifying and retaining key talent and succession planning. This is largely in line with the findings of the 2017 Hays Asia Salary Guide which surveyed numerous employers across a range of industries.
In mainland China, 22 per cent of those surveyed said achieving company objectives is their top professional challenge in the next 12 months, while lack of opportunities to grow one’s career and organisational politics were tied at 37 per cent for being respondents’ top career challenge.
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While there is no singular career path to a senior HR role and HRDs come from diverse backgrounds, the report nevertheless determined many common characteristics among those surveyed. The majority of HRDs in Asia are women (59 per cent) aged 36 to 50 (71 per cent) holding at least a bachelor’s degree (97 per cent). Only 16 per cent of degree holders studied HR, while 31 per cent focused on business, commerce, finance or economics.
Most HRDs had at least 10 years of HR experience before landing their current senior role (86 per cent) and had worked for multiple organisations (only 12 per cent had only worked for the one organisation) while 52 per cent had worked outside HR at some point in their career.
“What this tells us is that experience in different professions and industries can help prospective HRDs gain a deeper understanding of an organisation’s various business functions and departments,” says Simon.
Only 29 per cent of respondents had worked outside of Asia at some point during their career with 65 per cent of those spending more than two years overseas. Interestingly, 45 per cent of respondents consider working outside their home country a must for career development and 47 per cent are currently considering working overseas.
According to the 2017 Hays Asia Salary Guide, while 2016 saw a lack of new HR job openings by MNCs in the Chinese market, Hays expects an increase in demand for HR talent among Chinese companies, including HRDs. HR talent at MNCs who are dissatisfied with their career progression prospects might show an interest in pursuing senior HR roles in Chinese companies.
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