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Competencies Leadership

Does Your HR Team Have These Critical Competencies for 2021?

By Lorraine McKay on November, 11 2020
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Lorraine McKay

Competencies can also play a key role in this transformation and how you use these future competencies will impact your organization’s success in 2021 (and beyond).


2020 has certainly been a year for the record books. Few people could have truly predicted the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the business world. Yet, its impact has been felt by many. Your city knows it. Your employees know it. You know it.

We can’t change the past but we can prepare for the future. Your employees are one of the greatest assets to your organization but only if you can help refine them in a quality workforce. This requires quality leadership and vision.


This blog post will help highlight the future competencies that can positively impact your organization (through its HR department) in 2021.


In a hurry? Jump straight to your section of interest by clicking on a link (see below).


Article table of contents (jump to a section):

1. What are Future Competencies?
2. 4 Leadership Competencies Your Managers and Leaders Need In 2021
3. Why Visioning is The Most Important Competency for 2021

       i. Definition of Vision competency
      ii. Example of Visioning Leadership in HR
     iii. What You Need to Know about Implementing Change competency in HR
4. 4 Tips for Implementing Digital Transformation and Process Change in Your Organization
5. 3 Key Metrics to Measure Operational Efficiency in HR
6. 2 Critical Leadership competencies HR Professionals Need for Senior Leadership in HR
7. Next Steps


What are Future Competencies?


Future competencies are competencies which have been identified as critical to an organization’s future success (relative to the current competencies the organization has). This represents an aspirational perspective on how an organization uses its competencies and the results of applying these “future” competencies is usually seen months after its implementation.

4 Leadership Competencies Your Managers and Leaders Need In 2021


On March 16 of this year, all HRSG employees were sent home to work remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our company was in a good situation because we were set up to work remotely and were accustomed to doing so.

In the first 5 weeks after this, I researched more about the experience of other leaders and I identified a critical question which every organization should ask itself: What are the most important competencies for leaders and managers?

Below are the 4 most important Leadership Competencies (in my opinion) that both leaders and managers need for success in 2021:


Leadership Competencies

  • Empathetic and Compassionate
    • I believe that people inherently want to do a good job. Trust them to do that. Let them be self-directed but support them by being available and giving direction.

      Everyone has a different reality. Some are caring for children or older parents. Some don’t have a quiet place to work or have the best internet connections. Give them flexibility in their schedule. Let them take the time they need to go for walks or check in on family.
  • Fostering Communication
    • Communicate to connect and share their personal experiences. People need that personal touch. Some employees live alone and need that social contact.

      Communicate to remove uncertainty about their jobs and what is happening with the company. Be sure to always do this in a timely manner.
  • Planning and Organizing (focus on goals and deliverables)
    • When an entire team is working remotely, but you still have deliverables and goals, it’s important to be clear on timelines and expectations. Give clear direction, structure the work and assign it with deadlines.

      Hold team meetings to review progress and make sure everyone is contributing and on the same page.
  • Visioning (or Vision)
    • Create a vision for where your company is going both during and after the pandemic. Reflect on opportunities you should be seizing right now. Start planning for ways you will need to change in the new normal.

      Look at companies that have been successful in adapting to the pandemic situation. These are companies that can work digitally, communicate with their customers digitally, have a digital platform to order and deliver services and goods.

      What does this mean for your company in terms of competencies? It would require you to ensure that your workforce has or receives training on the following competencies: Digital literacy; Responsiveness; Data Analytics, Teamwork; Focus and discipline.

      I suggest you start thinking about the competencies your company is going to need in the new normal. Define these competencies, hire for them and start developing them.



Why Visioning is The Most Important Competency for 2021


In a 2019 survey of CEOs and Senior HR people, KPMG cited critical challenges facing HR that need to be addressed. In fact, HR’s future is dependent on addressing these challenges and modernizing its approach or it will become irrelevant and obsolete.

What are some of these challenges?

  1. Upskilling the workforce to operate within advanced technology like Artificial Intelligence and Robotics.
  2. Shaping culture – like creating a culture of inclusion, of trust, innovation and engagement.
  3. Providing a good experience to workers through software and processes.
  4. Using data and insight to drive decision making about people.


Whether has to do with HR Strategists or Heads of Operations, applying the Vision competency (also known as Visioning) is more critical than ever to anticipate challenges of the future and determine how to address them.

Just look at the challenges the Pandemic has created. HR needs to step back, understand the impact of the pandemic on the business and how this is going to affect people. HR needs to think both short term and long term when creating a solid plan.

Take for example “Managing Remote Teams” – this need is not likely to go away as business realizes that employees may prefer to work remotely and the company could save money on real estate leases.



Definition of Vision competency

Vision - The ability to step back from one’s daily routine, explore ideas for the future, regard the facts from a distance and see them in a broader context or in the longer term.





Example of Visioning Leadership in HR

Let me talk about one of my clients, who has done a brilliant job of demonstrating Visioning in their HR Leadership. This was a small organization of a few hundred employees operating in the public sector.

The Head of HR Operations was faced with a big challenge: How to address a shortage of leaders facing them in the next 3 years; this amidst a modernization agenda being implemented within the company.

The Head of HR could have done the easy thing…hire according to experience and promote the people perceived as the most talented. But she did something different. Her vision was to build future leaders to lead their transformation; leaders equipped with the competencies needed to drive change.

She recognized the need to build an internal pipeline of future leaders. Her strategy was to:

  • Use a competency approach to determine leadership potential
  • Build leadership competencies in a targeted way
  • Reinforce the ongoing demonstration of these competencies.

Three years later, the organization is changing, modernizing and has created much more value to its customers. This all started with Visioning.





What You Need to Know about Implementing Change competency in HR

This short video explains the basics when it comes to the Implementing Change competency and using it in your organization. Watch it to learn more.




Want to learn how to recognize & nurture leaders in your organization? 

Fill out the form below to access our Competency-based Transformation Leadership Guide today!


4 Tips for Implementing Digital Transformation and Process Change in Your Organization

Here are some of the ways my clients have been effective in implementing and engaging change in their organizations:

  1. Simple and staged – don’t do everything at once. Start with baby steps and build success. Maybe this starts with rolling out parts of the new technology or plans to parts of the organization (not all at once). Then learn from your successes and fine tune. Other parts of the organization will hear about your great product and want it. It’s always easier to implement something that people want.
  2. Provide the right amount of support – make sure you support your administrators and users during the roll out, especially the beginning stages. Be responsive to their questions, hold training and awareness sessions. Provide case studies to use your selected HR software more effectively. Even though the software may appear easy, don’t forget that some of your workforce may need more help in using and implementing it. Training them up front will soon pay off.
  3. Communicate the benefits to employees and managers (what’s in it for them) - Managers are interested in making HR better and easier. They want streamlined ways of making hiring decisions, easy tools to monitor performance and communicate with employees. Create a presentation and use any available collateral to showcase these benefits. Ask for feedback to ensure that the benefits were properly communicated.
  4. Build in connecting and fun – connecting with others is really important, so if the talent management software used at your organization facilitates communication with others, all the better. And don’t forget the fun part. Gamification can play a role here (if it is built into the software).


3 Key Metrics to Measure Operational Efficiency in HR

Here are 3 important metrics to help an organization measure the operational efficiency in HR:

  1. Usage - While usage isn’t necessarily a measure of efficiency, you need people using any HR software to do so efficiently. I suggest you track usage, and most software has this built in, so you can measure what aspects your employees are using and how often.
  2. Time Savings – People use software to save time, so you should measure this. For example, 
    1. Time to hire before and after implementing talent management software in the organization
    2. Amount of time spent to hire on the part of managers and HR
    3. Time to complete performance reviews for employees
  3. Costs – Time savings will turn into cost savings but there are other costs you can measure
    1. Savings from no longer outsourcing hiring or parts of your recruitment process
    2. Savings from filling positions sooner, especially if the vacant positions are key positions that impact the business.

These are common ways to measure operational efficiency, but don’t forget that you need to measure effectiveness and impact on the business as well.

You can have a streamlined recruitment system, but if the quality of the hires is poor, your efficiency savings will evaporate as you take on other costs such as lost productivity. Therefore, you need to measure outcomes like improved productivity and performance.


2 Critical Leadership competencies HR Professionals Need for Senior Leadership in HR


Let’s look at the key HR leadership competencies that companies are looking for. I picked a few that are important to focus on as you develop in your career.

Vision and Strategic Thinking – Many HR people are in very operational roles like recruitment and training management that don’t allow for exposure to more strategic projects. Think of how you can volunteer for a project that involves change and longer-term planning. Maybe you can shadow someone in your organization who is involved in these kinds of projects.

Data Analytics – This is typically a weakness for HR that will become more and more important. You don’t need to become a data scientist, but there are some key skills and knowledge you should develop.

  • Learn how to interpret data sheets
  • Know how to use HR data to measure business results, like operational efficiency
  • Read and interpret a budget sheet and quarterly report
  • Know how to use Excel to interact with data and display in graphs
  • Understand elementary statistics
  • Know how to measure ROI


Next Steps

Focusing on the right competencies of the future can help position your organization’s workforce for success in 2021. This involves having the right leadership and vision in your HR department. That leader or manager would also need a plan to positively transform their current HR processes as well as upskill themselves.

Tap into the right competencies (especially the Visioning or Vision competency) and unlock the quality hidden in your workforce.


Have questions about competencies of the future?


Take a look at our recent webinar (December 8, 2020) titled "Using competencies to assess skills of the future". During this webinar, HRSG's Lorraine McKay and Emrah Eren were joined by Eric Shepherd, author of "Talent Transformation: Developing Today's Team for Tomorrow's World of Work," as they provided key insights -- and actionable tactics -- to help managers and HR professionals assess and empower their talent in the coming years.


Video Link: Watch This Webinar


Post last updated: November 12, 2020