Tomorrow’s HR leader

Geneviève Fortier, the board chair of Québec’s HR association, takes a look at what organizations will need and want from HR.

It has been said over and over again that the new economy and globalization have transformed the business landscape. In this new environment, HR management is taking on an importance inconceivable a few years ago.

In fact, organizations have realized that the quality of production, their profitability and success rest, in large part, on their employees. That is why they are looking for HR managers who are also able to design management strategies and participate in defining and achieving the organization’s mission.

In this challenging context, HR professionals must demonstrate innovative and creative abilities to attract, develop and retain valuable resources.

That is why, in concert with the trends in the commercial and economic environment, the profession has evolved markedly over the last decade. Today, a company that wants to recruit a HR manager is first of all seeking a leader capable of playing a decisive role in developing and achieving the company’s strategy.

Québec’s HR association — the Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines et en relations industrielles agréés du Québec (ORHRI) — believes that to become a leader in HR, a person must have a solid educational base, that is, a relevant degree.

Incidentally, Québec is the first province to offer a bachelor’s degree in HR or industrial relations management.

And, conscious of market trends, universities have also adapted their study programs in recent years. We can now find in the curriculum the study of legislation covering, among other things, pay equity, labour standards and training.

For its part, the ORHRI has also revised its admission criteria. Thus, a bachelor’s degree in HR or industrial relations management is a fundamental requirement, the minimum requirement for admission.

So, what will the role of HR professionals be in the near future? In general, their mandate has been considerably enlarged. Of course, they will continue to perform the traditional functions such as labour relations, compensation, occupational health and safety and recruitment. But already we are seeing the field of practice branching out into several sub-specialties.

For example, they must also do workforce planning, prepare a succession plan, manage organizational violence, set up a mentoring system, manage international postings and more.

As to methods, these are also being transformed. Thus, traditional compensation management is now accompanied by the need to design reward and recognition systems. No longer do we simply offer training: we develop an intelligent organization. And organizational development is no longer a futuristic notion: it is a role that is becoming quite common.

It is clear that HR managers will have to demonstrate, in addition to fundamental skills, personal qualities such as an aptitude for interpersonal relations and flexibility, leadership skills to manage change, management skills and functional abilities that will permit them, among other things, to protect the interests of employees, ensure their development, hire suitable candidates and retain effective employees.

By playing an active role in the development of intellectual capital, the design and implementation of quality tools and services, through an ability to bring rapid solutions to personnel problems, the HR manager will bring added value to the organization, thus enabling it to improve its competitiveness.

In sum, the expectations of HR managers are greater and greater. In this world of fierce competition, it is by the quality of their personnel that companies set themselves apart.

Against this backdrop, the HR leaders of tomorrow will, without a doubt, be managers who will be able to contribute to fostering unity and to maximizing personnel performance by communicating the organization’s culture and vision.

In order to contribute to the achievement of the company’s objectives, they will demonstrate skills in the traditional functions, while knowing how to adapt to rapid change; even more, they will act as facilitators and initiators of continuous change, of innovative strategies. This is how, by being dynamic instigators of organizational change, future HR leaders will play a key role in their organizations.

Geneviève Fortier is chair of the board of the Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines et en relations industrielles agréés du Québec (ORHRI). The association may be contacted at (514) 879-1636.

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