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.

Email and Employee Engagement

When we discuss factors impacting employee engagement, the manager-employee relationship always makes the list. Originally published in 2008, this post from the archives addresses an often overlooked element of day to day interactions.



Managers can be a major source of dissatisfaction for employees. One thing a manager can do is make sure you're as nice in email as you are in person (click for link). 

  • Respect the impact an email can have on an employee. When an employee sees an email from their boss, their blood pressure actually goes up (click for link), no matter what the content of the mail is. But, understandably, blood pressure went up even more when employees got angry emails from the boss, or emails from a boss they perceived to be unfair. If you get in the habit of sending little bombs throughout the day, you will create a truly deadly workplace.
  • Be consistent. People read a lot into emails because the emails are devoid of the nonverbal cues we use to judge a message delivered in person. If you usually send very cordial ones, and then send a cold one, people who depend on you will spend hours analyzing it. The more consistent you are, the more people will focus on your content and stop wasting time trying to figure out subtext.

Managers, are you ready to fire off a strongly worded email, tip the balance of power in your favor and enjoy the illusion while it lasts?  Don't. Step away from the computer. I expect more from a leader in my organization and you should too.