Thursday 13 September 2012

Global HR Competencies

51utBGcxXgL SL500 AA300  I've previously provided a quick reaction to Ulrich's newest competencies and will probably provide more commentary on them from the Middle East HR Summit where I see him next.

My biggest worry with each new iteration of this framework is that things can't really change this quickly, eg with HR technology being important in 2004, dropping off the list in 2007 and coming back in again as technology proponent in 2012.  It's enough to make your head spin.

But then I look at each new framework and the competencies do always seem to resonate with what I'm seeing developing within HR.  So perhaps the issue isn't the amount of change, but what this means about how you might use the frameworks.  And basically, you can't.  Ie by the time you're read the books / seen Ulrich speak or invited him / me to come in and consult for you, tailored the competency framework for your own organisation, and then created and put in place a development programme for your HR practitioners things will have already moved on.

You can still use these competencies as a guide of course, which is why I maintain my interest in them.  But you also need to develop the framework further based upon your insight (probably intuition rather than analytics) about which way HR is going to be developing in the future.  It's why I'm not afraid to challenge the competencies regardless of all the research they're based upon.  All of that comes from yesterday - I'm focused on tomorrow.


To me, there's a natural order to the competencies which doesn't come through from Ulrich's recent book (HR from the Outside In - Global HR Competencies doesn't come out for another couple of months).

And the good thing is that whether you see HR working outside-in or inside-out (not like that), the competencies don't change.


Strategic Positioner.  It all begins with this.  Positioner is the key word, and the advancement on Strategy Architect last time around.  Because Positioner comes from competitive positioning, the best well known form of competitive strategy.  But the basis of strategy has shifted - it's no longer firm's differentiation in the external marketplace, but their differentiation inside that matters i.e. it's about people and culture - or organisational capabilities (see McKinsey's Beyond Performance for more of this, and a clear indication of how the focus of strategic management has changed). To me, strategic positioners have a clear view, philosophy or ideology about how they're going to manage their people, and this needs to be different from their competitors if they're going to succeed...


Capability Builder.  Once you've identified your strategic position, by selecting key organisational capabilities, you can then develop - or build - these capabilities.  So this competency is about putting your strategic plan into place - through people, culture and the organisation design.


Change Champion.  Which is of course going to require some change management, so this competency remains.


Innovator and Integrator.  More importantly, if the focus of your HR design is organisational capabilities, you're almost certainly going to develop an HR architecture which is different to other organisations, not the same.  It's going to take you away from best practice to best fit.  So you need to be able to innovate, develop and combine HR processes and practices to manage people in substantially new ways.


Technology Proponent.  Technology is becoming a more important enabler for effective and especially innovated and integrated HR - so this competency absolutely deserves to be here too.  See my recent post on HRTechEurope's blog (and come along and see me chair the HR Technology Europe conference too).


Credible Activist  - HR with added oomph.   The activist bit is probably a bit redundant if all the rest has been done, though there's still the need to have the original insight that leads to the choice of strategic positioning.  And the credible bit is still key.  The above suggests a very different way of managing organisations, and you're not going to get it discussed if you've not already got rapport.  But rapport's only useful if you do something with it - match the business, then lead.



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