Preparing for Change


As rapid socio-economic shifts transform the business environment and workforce, human resource experts and advocacy groups find themselves pressed to equip the industry’s professionals with adequate tools to keep functioning successfully.


From Aug. 25 to 29, African-American human resource professionals gathered at the Renaissance Downtown Chicago hotel in Chicago for the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources (NAAAHR)’s annual national leadership conference. The theme of the conference, “Human Resources Moving Beyond the Speed of Business,” reflects the association’s concern to maintain an effective Black presence in the HR arena of a fast-moving world. The conference targeted both professionals and students, showing professionals how to see, be and lead the future, deliver high-impact HR, add sustainable value to business success, identify specific ways to move from present performance levels and expand their positions of leadership and influence; and educating students about HR trends and providing career strategies to enhance growth, professional development and job searches.


Muriel Rosa Watkins, founder and president of MRW Consulting Group International L.L.C., a provider of forensic accounting, consulting and advisory services to law firms, law enforcement, government agencies, businesses and individuals, identifies three critical steps human resources professionals must take to be successful in their career today. Watkins discussed these steps in August as the featured speaker at “Getting Management to Listen to HR: Critical Influencing Skills for HR,” a session organized by the NAAAHR’s Greater New York chapter on the importance of understanding and speaking the language of the business, diminishing HR jargon and using metrics to build the business case for HR initiatives. The chapter’s officials said the goal of the session was to help HR professionals “break away from the traditional cost center, administrative or compliance view of HR and gain the skills needed to be a strategic business partner.”


The success steps identified by Watkins are:


Understand the business. Engage with key stakeholders and initiate meetings in order to understand what they do and the challenges they face.


Learn to think and talk like management. Don’t hide behind HR jargon that business leaders don’t fully appreciate. Learn the language of the business and translate HR value into business terms.


Don’t be the HR expert. Do not just tell your stakeholders what to do because you are the HR expert. Take a consultative and collaborative approach and engage your business leaders in a problem-solving discussion.


Successful or not, human resources professionals at all levels face the
same challenging issues, according to staffing agency Express Employment Professionals. The most challenging of these, the firm says, are:


Business impact. The goal of all human resources professionals is not only to sit at the “big” table with the CEO, but also to sit next to him or her. HR must be able to establish a financial impact and strategically implement action plans for improvements. Human resources professionals must continue to excel in human resource management plus increase business and change management skills.


Diversity. True employers of choice have one thing in common: valuing diversity. They challenge traditional ways of thinking and surround themselves with employees who think differently. They have discovered the secret to measuring diversity’s impact on the bottom line. You will explore their secrets to success and how you can become an employer of choice.


Generational differences.  For the first time, four generations are working side by side in the workplace. To meet recruiting goals and the needs of a diverse workforce, companies must attract the traditionalists, baby boomers, Gen Xers and millennials. Human resources professionals must learn how to reach out to all four generations and how to successfully bring each generation together to meet these critical goals.