Competency Model for HR Professionals

Dave Ulrich arguably the foremost thought leader in the field of Human Resources conducted a HR Competency Study, sampling more than 10,000 HR professionals and their business clients to identify essential HR competencies for an effective HR professional. The following are most important competencies of a HR professional:

  • Credible Activist: The HR professional is both credible (respected, admired, listened to) and active (offers a point of view, takes a position, challenges assumptions). Some have called this HR with an attitude.
  • Culture and Change Steward: The HR professional recognizes, articulates, and helps shape a company’s culture. Culture is a pattern of activities more than a single event. Ideally this culture starts with clarity around external customer expectations (firm identity or brand), and then translates these expectations into internal employee and organization behaviour. As stewards of culture, HR professionals respect the past culture and also can help to shape a new culture. They coach managers in how their actions reflect and drive culture; they weave the cultural standards into HR practices and processes; and they make culture real to employees.
  • Talent Manager / Organizational Designer: The HR professional masters theory, research, and practice in both talent management and organization design. Talent management focuses on how individuals enter, move up, across, or out of the organization. Organization design focuses on the capabilities an organization has that are embedded in the structure, processes, and policies that shape how an organization works.
  • Strategy Architect: The HR professional has a vision for how the organization can win in the future and plays an active part in the establishment of the overall strategy to deliver on this vision. This incorporates recognizing business trends and their impact on the business, being able to forecast potential obstacles to success, and facilitating the process of gaining strategic clarity. The HR professional also contributes to the building of the overall strategy by linking the internal organization to external customer expectations. This linkage helps make customer-driven business strategies real to the employees of the company.
  • Operational Executor: The HR professional executes the operational aspects of managing people and organizations. Policies need to be drafted, adapted, and implemented. Employees also have many administrative needs (e.g., to be paid, relocated, hired, trained, etc.) HR professionals ensure that these basic needs are efficiently dealt with through technology, shared services, and/or outsourcing. This operational work of HR ensures credibility if executed flawlessly and grounded in the consistent application of policies.
  • Business Ally: The HR professional contributes to the success of the business. Businesses succeed by setting goals and objectives that allow them to respond to external conditions. HR professionals contribute to the success of a business by knowing the social context or setting in which their business operates. They also know how the business makes money, which we call the value chain of the business (who customers are, why they buy the company’s products or services). And, they have a base understanding of the parts of the business (finance, marketing, R&D, engineering) so that they can help the business organize to make money.