What makes a good HR leader?

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Some of the finest minds in history have tried to describe what makes a good leader. Vision is often mentioned – knowing where you’re aiming to get to. Team-building is another – getting the right people to do the things you need to fulfil the vision of the future. A good HR leader needs the same qualities, and some more too.


HR directors need to develop a vision for the organisation that meets the aims of the business. So it’s important to have strong commercial acumen, to not only understand what other senior executives say they want to achieve, but to be able to predict and anticipate what they want from the business organisation before they know themselves.

That anticipation comes most easily when HR leaders have strong relationships with senior colleagues, so they need to be able to build those internal customer relationships and maintain them, even when the going gets tough.


Team-building is about delivery: translating those business ambitions into reality by having the right people doing the right jobs. This is why understanding what the business needs is crucial – only then can you design compelling jobs that are interesting and rewarding, to both motivate people and deliver business ambition.

Once the jobs are designed and the team is hired, a good HR leader can then create tight operational plans – clear and well-defined goals that keep the team on the right path to deliver that elusive vision.

Top HR talent in New Zealand

Many of the best HR leaders in New Zealand were reaping the rewards of this approach at the 2016 Randstad Award this year.

Attracting and retaining staff was a key part of the reasons why employers like the Department of Conservation, TVNZ and the New Zealand Customs Service were awarded the top accolades as Most Attractive Employer by Randstad New Zealand.

Brien Keegan, Randstad New Zealand’s Country Manager, explained: “Given New Zealand’s competitive labour market it is critical organisations look at ways in which they can attract, inspire and retain a team of talented and skilled individuals. Investing in their employer brand is essential and will certainly give them a competitive edge.”

How HR leaders create attractive employer brands

Key to developing an attractive employer brand is understanding what potential recruits are looking for beyond just salary, to intangible benefits like long term career prospects and workplace flexibility. HR leadership means finding a match between an individual’s need for job satisfaction and growth, and the skills that the organisation requires.

Finding the tools to do that is very important, Keegan added.

Randstad is dedicated to helping New Zealand businesses secure the best talent possible and our annual employer branding research is one of the many tools we provide to help organisations attract, engage and retain top talent,” he said. “Our mission is to shape the world of work in New Zealand, which means connecting great talent to companies, building successful careers and companies to people who will drive their future success.”

The top NZ employers were identified by the Randstad Award research – the largest independent employer branding research in the world. Randstad surveyed more than 200,000 potential jobseekers from around the world - including 7,017 New Zealanders – about their perceptions of different employers and their own motivations and employment needs.

The results showed that in New Zealand, public sector organisations are perceived as being the most attractive employers overall. Education and training services, media and professional services are also popular, while IT and telecommunications are lower down the attractiveness list.

“It’s really rewarding to see New Zealand’s public and educational institutions being perceived so positively as employers,” Keegan said. “New Zealand’s public services are amongst the best in the world, and our educational bodies help keep us at the forefront of cutting-edge research. This recognition will help these organisations attract and retain the best and brightest talent.”
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