I have been talking with a lot of HR Directors and Talent specialists over the past months and I thought I would share the top 5 points that I believe will make a difference to your HR career this year.

1.  Commercial Acumen

Yes, this old chestnut; but what is being expected as we move forward? Well if you are going to capitalise on your commerciality, really focus on what the business is looking to achieve over the next few years. It’s easy to get embroiled in the here and now but use your consulting skills to partner the business and pre-empt the issues and opportunities that will allow you to truly add value. You really need to have knowledge of your business’s market, the economic pressures and the movers and shakers who will set the sector direction. Not only do you need to understand business financials but what can you contribute to the risk, governance and competition debate? Understand this and your input will be broad, future focused and challenging. Upgrade your project management skills and keep focused on the ROI for any activity.

Career boost for 2014: Speak with at least 3 people outside your normal circle each month with an agenda to discover relevant commercial insights. Also stop saying “I’m a commercial person first, and an HR person second” – you are simply a commercial person.

2.  Remote Working

Many HR professionals are now challenged by virtual working, hot desking and having remote client bases, often globally. Many relationships are becoming ever more built through a technological interface, both in and out of HR, so every HR person should create their own way to manage this emerging trend. How are managers really able to effectively inspire performance and motivation from afar? Your role is not only to spot whether this is an issue in your business but to create a workable solution if it is. Technology is wonderful but in many peoples’ views there is no substitute for personal interaction, especially where cultural sensitivities are required.

Career Boost for 2014: Analyse which of your managers and their teams are being helped or hindered by technology? Find your champions who have adapted well and maybe set up a mentoring scheme or open communication to share great practice. At very least build a strategy for this ever increasing trend.

3.  Social Media

Staying on the technological theme, we are all aware of the immediacy and potential risk or benefit of social media. In 2014 I believe that HR professionals will have to become ever more selective as to which channels they focus on to drive efficiencies, engagement and employer brand development. There are so many choices that the smart practitioners will make a fact based assessment of those channels that will help communication and will tackle the ever growing challenge of work information and email overload.

Career Boost for 2014: Be the one in your team to do the diagnosis of where people should be spending their time online for commercial and internal communication gain. Make yourself aware of some of the newer social media tools coming to market and assess whether being an early adopter could bring the desired efficiencies or changes in behaviour.

4.  Talent Acquisition and Management

We all understand the need to find and retain exceptional talent who can drive our business forward and who can work in changing, ambiguous and potentially global environments. I’m surprised therefore that many recruiting practices have not evolved in line with changing needs. I am constantly aware of age-old competency frameworks being used in recruitment that represent the leadership capabilities of some years ago. Some people are encouragingly more conscious of recruiting for attitude or mindset, but keep going with flat competency-based questions, the answers to which can be so easily prepared for. In David Clutterbuck’s latest book ‘The Talent Wave’ he brilliantly demonstrates the need to add flexibility into talent management; to get away from broken practices that lead to wrong hires or incorrect promotions and allows true natural talent to come to the surface from all parts of the organisation.

Career Boost for 2014: Read ‘The Talent Wave’ to open your mind to the problems and numerous solutions to current talent problems. Really challenge your own practices for recruitment and make suggestions to bring them up to date for today’s competitive market.

5.  True Career Ownership

Create a greater degree of job security for yourself by proactively aligning your development to the future needs and direction of the business. This way, in the future you will have the skills that are in demand and you will have made yourself indispensable. This takes a good degree of owning and driving your career direction. You need to be challenged and be challenging; you need to think strategically and actively align yourself to the business direction. Truly understand your motivating strengths and see where you can utilise them to the full, which will bring enjoyment, fulfilment and success.  By taking accountability for your future career you will actively be championing change and making yourself relevant for up-coming operational challenges.

Career Boost for 2014: Take time to assess your career direction; your skills, strengths and motivators; the future needs of the business, and then take action. It can be tough to do that alone so consider working with a coach to challenge your thinking and encourage your continuous development. If your success will be measured in December 2014, what are you doing now to make it happen?

2014 will be as good as you make it. Get ahead of the game with your own development and actively see the rewards above and beyond some of your less proactive colleagues. HR needs to continually evolve so make sure you are the one who is driving it.

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