How to build the perfect HR team: 6 essential tips

Grainne Shaughnessy
Last updated on 1st September 2020
3 min read

The 1927 New York Yankees. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Charlie’s Angels.

History and media are rich with examples of what we might call ‘perfect’ teams.

As HR and People leaders, we want to know the secret to building the perfect team. It can help get the most out of our employees, make them feel happier at work and improve retention and productivity.

But there’s an even more pressing need for great teams right now – and specifically within HR.

Goodbye HR, hello People

HR is changing. As our research report, ‘The changing face of HR’, shows, the changes on the horizon over the next three years are significant. To cope with this, HR needs to move away from its traditional model to a more people-focused approach.

Where once it was once a back-office function, HR and People departments are now strategic business partners delivering bottom-line value for organizations. Therefore, along with the traditional skills required, HR and People professionals also need to be a team of experts with the abilities to:

  • think and plan strategically
  • align HR goals with business goals
  • drive change while keeping morale high
  • evaluate, design, implement and adjust reward systems that help meet business goals
  • use data-driven approaches and insights to analyze people patterns
  • identify and predict employment trends
  • help create a flourishing company environment
  • build great employee experiences to improve engagement and productivity

Do you have the right people to meet these challenges?

Some of the skills outlined above will already be covered within your HR and People team, but many of them will not.

HR and People Leaders told us the skills they felt would be most important in three years are: communications; people analytics; creativity; and technological abilities.

However, of these four critical skills, HR and People leaders felt they had significant skills gaps in all but communications.

Unsurprisingly then, a massive 86% of HR and People leaders said they believe HR skillsets need to change. So how to fill these crucial gaps and create the perfect team?

1. Understand what the HR team of the future will look like

HR is undergoing a revolution and organizations that are People-focused are leading the charge. The perfect team will be better than ever at understanding and analyzing their people so they can deliver excellent experiences all the way through the employment cycle. People will be at the center of everything.

2. Embrace change and agile working

The perfect HR and People team is agile and responsive. This new agile way of working means teams are continuously learning and adapting – they can get quicker feedback, implement changes faster and take remedial action when it’s needed.

Working on cross-functional project teams is another way to significantly improve productivity. However, agile working often requires investment in technology… 

3. Invest in technology

Cloud and mobile technologies are changing the way we work. Yet while HR and People Leaders want to invest in new technology, 57% told us they are held back due to resourcing restrictions.

In addition, 43% told us their organization won’t be able to keep up with the changes in technology. This is having an impact on the efficiency and agility of HR and People teams, and a knock-on effect on whole organizations. A successful HR and People team is empowered to invest in technology as well as employing people with the skills to get the best out of the tech.

4. Use actionable insights to make smart decisions

When selecting the right people to create your perfect team, clever use of data can help you make and evaluate your people decisions – from hiring to choosing personalized rewards for your staff. In fact, our research found that 24% of People Leaders are already using AI to select the candidates who will be the best fit for the team.

However, as with tech, there needs to be investment in data and people analytics, as well finding the right people who can get the most out of the data.

5. Look beyond the norm

In these changing times, you need to curate your own diverse teams that can respond to current and future business challenges. When hiring, it’s important to look beyond traditional HR skills and find people with something extra to offer.

For example, do you have the right mix of creatively minded people and data-driven people? If not, are you able to find them – either internally or externally?

6. Encourage upskilling

A great alternative to hiring new people to plug creative, analytical or data gaps is upskilling. You equip your current team with additional skills so they can step up. Rotational assignments are one method of upskilling: team members get to spend time (often 3-6 months) in a colleague’s role, and vice versa.

Finally, remember: there’s no such thing as perfect

There’s no such thing as perfect. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t aim as high as possible. If you understand what’s needed now and in the next few years across the HR and People landscape, you should act as soon as possible.

Win senior buy-in to make the necessary changes and investments, and you will soon be able to show the strategic value of your happy, efficient and forward-thinking HR and People team.

New HR skillsets are emerging in today’s changing world of work. Are you prepared? Explore the four essential skills HR teams will need for the future in the eBook.

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HR Strategy