5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Human Resources Management Skills

If you’re a small business owner, you may feel that Human Resources Management (HRM) only applies to large companies and corporations. But effective HRM provides strategies for managing employees in any size business. If your business hires employees on any level, HRM policies can help you improve every aspect of recruiting, safety, employee training, hiring and even firing. Gaining new skills in HRM can help you better deal with every aspect of your business’s human resources.

  • Let your employees work together, share ideas and develop a sense of ownership over their jobs and the workplace. When workers feel free to share ideas, it helps them to be more productive and more effective in their jobs. Give them the freedom to express their thoughts and utilize their creativity whenever you can.
  • Build relationships with your staff, colleagues and managers. This is done by expressing concern for others, treating people with respect, trusting them to want to do their jobs well, and giving them your full attention when required.
  • Create an environment that encourages your employees to perform better and recognizes their efforts when they do. It’s easy to overlook a job well done, simply because it’s expected that employees perform adequately. But if you have an employee who has been struggling to improve and she finally makes noticeable progress, let he/her know you noticed. It can help him/her to improve even more just to know you’re aware of him/her efforts.
  • Learn to communicate clearly, whether in writing or verbally. Communication skills can be learned. In fact, if you struggle in this area, take a few eCourses to help you improve your skills. This is one of the most important things you can do to improve your HRM abilities.
  • Lead your team by example rather than simply direction. This will help your employees respect you much more because they can see you’re not asking them to perform tasks you’re unwilling to perform.

Recognize what works and what doesn’t work in your HRM and eliminate ineffective procedures. Develop systems for monitoring success and learn to adapt your policies as needed to ensure your business is running as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

Cooperative Communication

Cooperative communication, in the world of business, is generally defined as the skill and ability of employees to “get along” at the workplace; the techniques of sharing information in a non-threatening and polite manner are the basis of cooperative communication, and when properly implemented, cooperative communication enhances the workplace experience and typically inspires better performance.

It is natural that, during the complexity and repetitive nature of typical workdays, person-to-person conflicts will arise. The pressure to perform, both individually and as team members, can generate high-level negativity and conflict in many employees. Cooperative communication often acts as an effective “pressure release valve”.

Studies have shown that when cooperative communication is lacking, feelings of hostility, operational problems, and poor individual performance are among the unhappy results. This begs the question: Why isn’t cooperative communication practiced by all companies to avoid the problems created by its lack of implementation?

Unfortunately, there is a general lack of cooperative communication for a simple, but often undiscovered reason: Most people have never been taught the skill. Few schools and higher education institutions have cooperative communication on their course menu. Unless employees learned the skill at home from their parents, most have little appreciation for or the ability to use this important commodity. Unfortunately, this skill is often lacking in otherwise high performing managers, too.

The simple act of cooperative communication can have a profound effect on management effectiveness in a variety of ways. For example, good cooperative communication will often:

  • Eliminate employee-to-employee friction. As workplace pressures escalate, so does the natural human conflicts that occur. Cooperative communication usually eliminates much of this vocal friction and helps teams work together more successfully.
  • Eliminate the attitude of “winning an argument” and introduce a philosophy of problem solving. Instead of a personal competition environment, staff normally adopts a winning attitude towards the team or department in which they function.
  • Eliminate professional personality and procedure conflicts. Instead of an attitude of “Do it my way. It’s the best way,” cooperative communication fosters an attitude of “Let’s work together to do it the best way”. This one attribute can help management immensely.
  • Eliminate conflict and wasted time at strategic and training meetings. Both staff and management often complain about the number of meetings they are required to attend. Yet, for all the jokes and complaints, management knows that most meetings are necessary. Cooperative communication in the meeting place saves time, helps the moderator stay on topic, and generates better results.
  • Eliminate many client and customer complaints about poor treatment by staff. Nothing can do more harm to a company’s branding and image efforts than a customer or client base that feels mistreated by staff. A habit of cooperative communication often eliminates much of the customer dissatisfaction (real or perceived) that afflicts many companies.

Cooperative communication is a simple concept that can deliver wonderful positive results to management. Managers should understand that because of lack of training at all levels of education many employees don’t understand how to use cooperative communication.

Depending on the size and/or structure of a company, the Human Resource (HR) Department, team leaders, or department managers can implement the training and support necessary to expose employees to the ways to use cooperative communication. This is a win-win situation for both staff and management, as employees will enjoy a more positive workplace experience by eliminating much of the natural conflict that occurs.

How to Attract the Talent You Want

  • Treat every candidate with respect for their interest. Whether you are recruiting inexperienced new graduates or C-level executives, give every candidate the respect they deserve as people. Being honest, open and professional is critical to candidates’ perceptions of your company. Never violate this rule in your talent-finding formula.
  • Create a professional hiring process; then follow it. Explain the hiring process to all candidates; follow it religiously. Depending on the authority level of different jobs, you’ll need to vary your process at times. However, to maintain your professional credibility, you must follow the process you have explained to the candidate.
  • Design a positive process for candidates that don’t “make the cut.”  Have you experienced the horrors or heard about other candidates who were told that they would hear from a company after an interview, only to hear nothing? Employers who practice this “policy” must not realize the damage they do to their reputation and brand. Candidates have friends and family who are also consumers and can refer other talented people. Outstanding leaders develop a formula that offers dignified ways to deliver a professional “no” message.
  • Create a hiring formula that gives you flexibility.  Your recruiting and hiring formula should recognize that you may sometimes need candidates with unusual educational or behavioral qualifications specific for the job, department or team. A winning talent-finding formula allows you to be consistent, but flexible when necessary. If you want to consistently attract the best talent, make flexibility your trusted partner.
  • Create a pleasant “candidate experience” for all job seekers and recruits.  You might compare this component to the popular branding goal of creating a positive “customer experience” for all consumers who contact your company. Treating all candidates with respect, keeping your hiring process consistent, and having a professional communication strategy for non-hires increases your probabilities of attracting and hiring the best talent available.

Consider using some or all of these suggestions to create your effective plan and winning recruiting programs. If  these features sound like basic human courtesy and respect more than textbook HR principles, you’re right.

Whether you are recruiting for a part-time mail clerk or a Vice President of IT, the candidate will judge your leadership ability—and your company—by the way you manage the hiring process. Your company faces no more risk when hiring a lower-level employee than when interviewing executive suite candidates. Your professional hiring process should be consistent for all candidates.

For example, the inexperienced part-time candidate may have an older sibling or family member who is eminently qualified for an open executive position. Further, lower level candidates may not be shy about telling everyone in sight about the treatment they received when interviewed by you or your company. If it was a positive experience, he or she may sing your praises. Conversely, if it was a negative experience, the candidate may be equally vocal in recommending that family and friends not buy your company’s products or services.

Join the fraternity of outstanding leaders by designing a professional, effective talent-finding formula. Your career and employer will reward you many times over.

How to Get the Best Performance from Diverse Teams

As more businesses rely on teams to perform projects and achieve goals, management must learn to maximize their productivity and minimize inherent potential downsides. This challenge is spiced with increasing diversity, including age, education, language and cultural differences.

Managers’ performance ratings often depend on the achievements of their teams. This condition mandates that managers learn to work well with diverse teams, using teammate talents to the max, while building a finely tuned group that is motivated to deliver high performance.

University of California, Irvine, PhD candidate Kenji Klein noted in the published paper, “Culturally Diverse Teams that Work,” that culturally diverse teams “. . . can boost firm performance, but that potential comes with some risk.” Klein’s research displayed that results of diverse teams are divided—sometimes they work well; at times they do not.

The prime questions that managers must answer: How to take advantage of diverse teams? Team diversity works best when responsible for the following tasks.

  • Projects that demand focus from a variety of angles and perspectives.
  • Subjects that include understanding information from various sources, requiring innovative answers and out-of-the-box ideas.

Managers facing more obvious, routine tasks or projects may generate better results by using less diverse, more homogenous teams. In these situations, teams with educationally and culturally similar members can benefit from the following advantages.

  • Faster and better communication.
  • Better cohesion and quicker collaboration to solve problems.
  • Smoother implementation of changes and solutions.
  • Projects having short deadlines benefit from using less diverse teams.

Assembling diverse high-performing teams require managers to have one quality above all others—patience. Research from a variety of institutions, including MIT’s Sloan School of Management, indicates that newly formed diverse teams initially do not perform very well.

However, over time, team members become more comfortable working with their teammates and deliver higher performance when their leader (manager) has the patience to let teammates adjust to each other’s differences and perspectives.

Along with exhibiting patience, managers should allow diverse team members to integrate their different views instead of encouraging teammates to suppress their age, cultural or educational differences. If managers select the right team members, while giving them the freedom to become a cohesive group over time, diverse teams tend to perform better than more homogenous groups in the long-term.

Managers, who are patient and offer diverse teams freedom to find their own ways to collaborate, enjoy the following benefits.

  • High-level innovative ideas and solutions.
  • Team members who are comfortable offering out-of-the-box thinking and suggestions to each other and to management.
  • Teams that overcome initial conflicts rising from diversity to become high performing, cohesive groups.
  • The ability to give these teams complex projects, requiring innovation and creativity, with the confidence that their valuable combination of diversity and cohesion will deliver outstanding solutions.

Two conditions seem to apply across the board with few dissenters:

  • Globalization of business demands that managers find ways to work with highly diverse teams.
  • Most diverse teams take a while to fuse and integrate their differences to focus on collaboration to achieve their goals.

Managers who accept and understand these consistent tendencies should enjoy excellent results from their diverse teams. Leaders still must be aware of potential conflicts arising from personality, not cultural, diversity. Assembling winning diverse teams may demand some management tweaking of team members involved in bad chemistry situations.

Evaluating team cohesion is important, even when managers assemble homogenous teams for shorter-term projects. Patient managers, who give their diverse teams the freedom to work past their initial cultural differences, will be pleased they adopted this approach. Diverse teams, aware of their leader’s patience and understanding, typically form high-performing, cohesive groups that solve the most complex problems with innovative solutions.

Build Your Resilience

Resilience, decisiveness, adaptability-in these trying and rapidly changing times, leaders need these skills more than ever. The good news is that if these skills are not already in your leadership toolbox, you can develop them by managing your thoughts, actions, and behaviors.

Here are a few simple things you can do right now:

Think positively. Be hopeful and optimistic. Focus on what you want, not what you fear you will lose.

Let go. Accept that change is going to happen with or without you. Know what is beyond your control.

Take decisive action. Tackle problems; don’t avoid them.

Take a long-term perspective. Don’t get hung up on a specific event or a day on the market.