The 5 Soft Skills All HR Pros Working in Emerging Markets Should Have – Excuses Are Not Accepted

Becoming a great HR Professional in any country or culture is never easy. It takes time and experience.

Unfortunately, if you work as an HR Professional in emerging markets, you know that “time” is not your friend and “experience” means nothing. Partly because you have to deal everyday with situations where there is little precedent for what you need to accomplish. But also because your company wants you to execute all HR activities better, faster and smarter than anyone else. No time to sit back and wait… No one to teach you how to do…

In such a challenging situation, the only ones who possess a great set of interpersonal skills have an opportunity to survive and grow professionally. Probably you know this already but it’s worth a reminder. As a global HR Professional, it’s not sufficient to only master your traditional HR skills learned in your home-country. You also must to develop some specific intercultural qualities – or you will find yourself ineffective in emerging markets. And obviously, that’s not your goal.

In this article you are going to find a list of 5 essential interpersonal skills you will have to master in order to be considered as an HR high potential. As you read through it, you will discover that these skills are interdependent each other. In other words: the development of one cannot exist without the others. I know that seems a little bit complex but in fact, it’s a pretty good news for you! That means if you manage to develop one of them, it will be easier for you to develop the others. So don’t panic! Take a closer look below and see which skills you need to gain to dramatically improve your HR career in emerging markets.

1. Self-awareness or having a deep understanding and intuitiveness of yourself and others.

Being aware of yourself and the perception you are projecting is an essential skill you need to have. As an HR Professional working in emerging countries, one of the first things to do is to figure out how you are perceived by others in order to be able to adapt your behavior and build strong relationships with your employees. By gaining an awareness of your own cultural norms, values, worldview and communication, you will also be able to better understand yourself. That’s a critical step toward understanding your employees regardless of where you are in the world. So take some time to reflect on yourself and learn to be a little more emotionally intelligent.

2. Inquisitiveness or the willingness to learn and be curious.

Having an insatiable demand for knowledge is an important trait of successful HR Professionals in emerging markets. In an environment where change is the only constant, asking questions, investigating as well as seeking explanation are probably the best ways to find solutions to any issue. It will also help you solve problems creatively and take advantage of opportunities. So be adventurous: start asking more questions for which you don’t have the answers and seek information outside established boundaries. Open up and be curious!

3. Cultural sensitivity/empathy or the capacity to put yourself in another person’s shoes.

If inquisitiveness is a “head” quality of a great global HR Professional, empathy is all about the heart. Having empathy is having compassion and understanding for someone else’s feelings, thoughts, attitudes and beliefs. For an HR working with people from diverse cultural backgrounds, it means being able to put her/himself in employees’ position, picturing their perspectives and being receptive to their concerns. By mastering this skill, you will have a genuine awareness of other people and be able to know how they would like to be treated by you. It’s clearly a powerful skill to gain! So before you judge or speak, think of the individual.

4. Learning ability or the ability to learn from experience.

Being able to adapt experience and knowledge to different environments is an important skill that anybody needs to have. But for HR people working overseas, this characteristic is crucial because they have to immerse themselves in an unfamiliar environment full of new people and challenges they have never met before. Learning more and more quickly and being capable of changing as a result of this learning will definitely give you the strength to respond and overcome the toughest situations. So explore and experiment.

5. Open-mindedness or being more receptive to new experiences, ideas and people.

Today global companies operating in emerging markets need HR Professionals capable of building bridges with local employees. By being nonjudgmental and truly open-minded to listening to others, you will be able to build trusted relationships with diverse employees and learn new ways of thinking and handling things. So stop generalizing or jumping to conclusions. You will be more likely to appreciate cultural differences and develop cultural intelligence.

Smart global HR Professionals cannot afford to not have these interpersonal skills! No matter what anybody else have told you, being an effective and efficient cultural communicator is the single most important step toward becoming a successful HR player in the global HR arena. So be ambitious and start to learn the “intercultural language”!

–> Any comments, questions or suggestions? Feel free to Ask Me Anything by sending me an email at eliseeokonda.loma@hrinemergingmarkets.com

I will be glad to answer you!