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4 tips to being a great HR generalist

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Moving into the role of an HR generalist is a step in the right direction for those who aspire to take on the position of a CHRO or HR business partner.

However, making the move from a specialist to generalist role requires some adjustment. We’ve put together the four things you need to keep in mind and work on if you’re planning on making that leap.

1. Understand the business

It is no secret that as the HR function becomes a more strategic business partner, you will require a more in-depth and holistic understanding of the business. On top of making sure you’re always present at important decision-making meetings, make time to schedule informal catch-ups with other business leads in the company.

Understanding and being aware of what your counterparts in divisions such as marketing, finance and legal are doing will give you a better overview of the business direction, the gaps that HR can help fill, and where the company is headed in the next few years.

2. Get feedback about yourself

It’s never easy to do a self-evaluation or hear what other people think about you, but that knowledge can be critical to your self-improvement. You don’t have to wait for the annual 360 surveys or performance evaluations to find out how you are being perceived in the workplace.

While we’re not suggesting you corner colleagues and demand they tell you what they think of you, there’s no harm in seeking feedback in a casual setting, perhaps over lunch or coffee. Ask if there’s anything you can do better to help them, if there are skills you need to brush up on, or even something you’ve done well and should aspire to repeat. You might be surprised at what you hear and learn.

3. Know your numbers

Increasingly so, we are seeing a stronger relationship between HR and data analytics. This isn’t a new trend, but it is one that has been growing in significance over the past few years.

If data analytics hasn’t been your strongest point, make an effort to learn more about this by speaking to experts in your organisation or industry. As a generalist, you will be required to know how to translate raw data into insights and actions, especially in aspects such as recruitment, talent management and engagement.

4. Communicate like a boss

Every leader, regardless of rank, company or country, needs to be a good communicator. It doesn’t matter if you’re delivering a keynote address or sharing the meeting’s agenda to a handful of people, any breakdown in communication can spell disaster.

Make sure you’re using words that are easy to understand, keep your messages clear and concise, and remember that listening is as important as speaking when it comes to communicating.

In the words of author and former presidential speechwriter James Humes: “The art of communication is the language of leadership.”

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