I was reading an excert from The HR Scorecard: Linking People, Strategy, and Performance, by Brian Becker, Mark Huselid and David Ulrich and thought it would be instructive to pass on some of this information. The excert was Chapter 7, Competencies for HR Professionals. One thing is clear it is not easy to be an HR professional!
From a comprehensive study they determined that there are five competency domains that are necessary. These are, in order of importance:
- Knowing the business
- Mastering HR practices
- Managing culture
- Orchestrating change
- Demonstrating personal credibility
A bit about each.
Knowing the Business
They state that HR professionals add value to an organization when they understand how the business operates. Understanding this allows them to adapt HR and organizational activities to changing business conditions. Only by knowing the financial, strategic, technological and organizational capabilities of your organization can you play a valuable role in any strategic discussion. Further, business acumen requires knowledge, if not direct operational experience, in functional areas such as marketing, finance, strategy, technology and sales, in addition to HR. My experience has been that not enough HR people know this and make no effort to learn it.
Mastering HR Practices
This means you have to “know your stuff.” According to the authors “Knowing and being able to deliver state-of-the-art, innovative HR practices builds these professionals’ credibility and earns them respect from the rest of the organization.”
This is being the “keeper of the culture” as they say. Understand, deliver on it, preserve it, reflect it.
According to the authors an “HR professional must demonstrate the following abilities: the ability to diagnose problems, build relationships with clients, articulate a vision, set a leadership agenda, solve problems, and implement goals. This competency involves knowledge of change processes, skills as change agents and abilities to deliver change.”
Demonstrating Personal Credibility
This is “walking the walk and talking the talk.” You have to be credible both in and outside of the organization. HR professionals that violate company policy, such as getting sued for sexual harassment, will not have any credibility, regardless of how much HR knowledge they may have. (Think Elliot Spitzer here.)
So, as you can see, this is not any easy job. I dare you to print this off and take it to your boss and ask if you are fulfilling this role and demonstrate these competencies. If not, you know what your improvement plan needs to look like.