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HR must speak the language of business.
I realize there are times when we share a group eye roll or collective sigh after hearing someone lecture us about the need to learn the numbers and speak in business terms. I’ll admit, I’ve done it too. But deep down inside, we know it’s true. HR professionals need to communicate effectively and in a way that will encourage their audience to respond favorably.
It’s no different than the conversation we have within the organization. We tell managers the benefits of having conversations with employees, not simply speaking at them. We stress the importance of using the right communication medium – for example, don’t send an email when it’s better to use the phone. This advice also applies to those of us in human resources.
But over the past few years, I’ve come to realize that it’s to our advantage to tell compelling business stories. The story includes 3 parts:
- It has the metrics and numbers needed to justify our position. Read and listen for what your senior management team is paying attention to. If they mention an article, jot it down and read it later. You don’t even have to comment about it. Just start to understand what they find interesting.
- It includes an anecdote that makes it memorable. Let’s face it, it’s hard to remember numbers off the top of your head. But compelling numbers combined with a great story will ensure that people remember the story. Storytelling is an art. Look for the great stories in your organization. Learn how to tell them accurately and succinctly.
- It’s communicated well. HR professionals should take advantage of every opportunity to speak in front of groups. Whether it’s a podcast, webinar, or conference session, get comfortable speaking. The more comfortable you are; the more confident you sound.
Even if we don’t want to hear the words “seat at the table” anymore, that doesn’t mean we can ignore the fact that HR needs to be heard in order to be effective. The key is to combine the numbers and story.