Seven Ways to Build Credibility

Current competency models in the field of Human Resources (HR) share common themes. Among them is the necessity of the HR professional to serve as a credible activist. This becomes even more important to the HR professional who is in an organization that still sees HR as the party planner or the corporate police. Below are some tips on building credibility in the workplace.

1. Learn the Business. As mentioned in my previous post, learning the business of business is essential in gaining credibility. Understanding how the activities of the  HR department impact the goals of the organization  will help you speak the language of the organization. If you are in a high sales culture, learn what HR activities impact sales revenue and create measures to prove it.

2. Keep Commitments and Meet Deadlines. Doing what you say you are going to do and meeting deadlines builds reliability. If something prevents you from doing so, be sure to keep others informed with updates.

3. Own Your Mistakes. If you make a mistake, don’t try to hide it or place blame on others. Admit when you are wrong. If necessary, ask for feedback on how you can improve or share what you have learned from the mistake. If an apology is in order, apologize.

4. Learn to Ask and Listen. Listening is often one of the most difficult of the communication skills. However, failing to ask the right questions and then listening to understand could result in the wrong message being communicated out.

5. Explain the Reasons and Help Find Alternatives. There are going to be times that the HR professional in the building has to say no. Being charged with the responsibility of mitigating risk is essential to the role. Keep in mind that managers sometimes have the perceptions that HR is there to be the police and find ways to say no. Instead, find ways to say yes by helping managers find alternative solutions. This is where the ask and listen skill becomes critical.

6. Use Empathy and Keep Emotions In Check. Showing empathy to others does not mean that you agree, it simply means that you understand the emotion they are feeling. Not acknowledging this emotion sends the message that you are not listening or do not care.

Further, be careful with emotions. While positive emotions can fuel our success, negative emotions can destroy our credibility. Emotions and logic do not always work together well. For example, it is human nature to become defensive when one feels attacked; however, letting emotion take over for logic in this case increases your risk of saying things that you will later regret. Find a tactic that works for you in keeping your emotions in check.  One tactic is to count silently for a few seconds before responding. Regardless of the tactic you choose, remember that objective judgment is another essential competency in the HR profession.

7. Give Credit where Credit is Due. Acknowledge the good work of others especially those who work under you. People feel threatened and lack trust for leaders who try to take credit for their ideas and work.

What else can you add to this list? Your thoughts, comments and questions are always encouraged!

For more resources, See the Human Resources library.