Competencies for the Future of HR

It's the performance review time of the year again and I started thinking about meaningful competencies I could discuss with the different members of my staff. To be relevant and impactful, HR professionals must move beyond the technical. Here is post from the archives I'd like to share with you about competencies for the future of HR.

When I was asked if I was interested in reviewing the latest in HR competency research, I said yes, and a complimentary copy of HR From the Outside In: Six Competencies for the Future of HR by David Ulrich, Jon Younger, Wayne Brockbank and Mike Ulrich was soon delivered to my doorstep.

Photo credit iStockphoto

Photo credit iStockphoto

I have to admit, when I first heard the title, my mind flashed to the scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where the winners of the golden tickets were inside of the gate of the Wonka factory and everyone else on the outside wishing the were in. In my mind flash, HR professionals were not the golden ticket winners.

With this picture in my mind, I cracked the cover and began to read with an eye towards self development, staff development, a personal interest in a discussion on leadership and credibility... and getting HR inside the gate to the factory.

The authors delivered.

Rich in research and context, the discussions of each of the six competencies offer insight, explanation and real world examples I could relate to. The six competencies are:

  • Strategic Positioner
  • Credible Activist
  • Capability Builder
  • Change Champion
  • HR Innovator and Integrator
  • Technology Proponent

A few points that caught my attention as I moved through 250+ pages of "what HR professionals need to know and do" are:

  • "The domain in which HR tends to be the weakest is in understanding and applying technology to build HR efficiency, to leverage social networking, and to manage the flow of strategic information."
  • "The factors that have the greatest impact on business success are, in order of importance, connecting people through technology; aligning strategy, culture, practices and behavior; and sustaining change."

Did you know that the quality of the HR department is about 4x as important as the quality of HR professionals in predicting business performance? There is even a guide to assist you in developing an effective HR department.

It's a pretty good guide, but here's the deal with guides. They are just guides. And as easy and tempting as it would be for any HR professional to fall into line and follow the guide, this not what the profession needs.

Read the book but don't read it as a how-to manual. Read it is a guide or a foundation to develop an extraordinary HR organization of competent HR professionals who advance the goals of the business. The HR profession needs less, "If I do ABC, I will be XYZ" and more personal accountability for getting the job done, for delivering results and for providing leadership organizations need.

It all circles back to the competent HR professional. It all circles back to you. So, now that you have the golden ticket, what are you going to do with it?

Photo credit: David Airey

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have  expressed are my own.

HR Leadership: Capability vs. Expertise

I’ve had this HR gig for a long time – even longer considering I don’t even really like HR. Actually, what I don’t like are the conversations others are having about us and the conversations we have amongst ourselves.



Others say we can’t solve business problems, we don’t have the language of the business or we are stuck in an administrative support mindset. And we believe them! Our conversations are woeful and lost. We need to stop that right now and start speaking with pride about our profession and applauding our accomplishments.

We need to step up our leadership game.

Whether we are preparing a workforce succession strategic plan, developing an innovative approach to increase veteran hiring, analyzing workforce trends to identify recruitment and retention hot spots, digging into big data or making progress on the diversity front, skills alone are never enough.

Organizational leaders want more than capability. They want expertise. They are waiting for us to speak from our position as expert, offer points of view and challenge assumptions. It's integral to HR competency.

Pick a day, any day, and welcome to our world as HR leaders. As chief human capital officers, human resource directors, EEO managers or brand new human resource  generalists, we are expected to advise, identify risk and recommend.  Focusing on the technical aspects of the job alone will not get us to where we need to go to impact organizational performance.

Our work puts us at the center of the action where we are perfectly poised to lead. I challenge you to up your leadership game. Are you up for the challenge?