So after a couple of false starts, Dave Ulrich's new HR competencies are out (presented on a HR.com webinar by Dave's son, Mike.)
I was pleased to see, first of all, that the competencies did somewhat resemble my own predictions, made when I had thought Dave was going to presenting on this in Australia. I don't have anything regarding compliance and he hasn't got anything on organisation design (why not? - wasn't it asked about or has the research shown it not to be impactful?). But apart from these two competencies the frameworks are very largely the same.
As normal, the competencies seem to do a good job of articulating changes I see taking place in the HR world, although I regret the absence of anything to do with Innovation in the new framework. Having said that I didn't use the word in my suggestion either.
Other than that, the interesting thing about Dave / Mike's analysis was the difference they have identified between what makes a high performing HR professional and a high performing HR function.
Individual practitioner performance is well explained by their level of competencies:
- Strategic Positioning provides the main source of value for customers, investors, external communities and regulators but not line managers or employees
- Credible Activities is the main source of value for these two groups.
Value provided by the HR function is well explained by the activities undertaken but not by individual HR competencies. But when looking at the competencies:
- Strategic Positioning is still most important for customers and investors
- Credible Activist still tops out for employees
- Line managers are most swayed by Human Capital Curating but there's a negative relationship between this and customers. communities and regulators. Mike suggested that the problem is you can't differentiate using this competencies - all organisations do it fairly well. Personally I don't think that's true and put the problem down to Mike's comments at the end of the presentation - that we're business people in HR, and business drives HR not the other way around. I think Human Capital Curating needs more ambition than that!
- Regulators get most value from the Compliance Manager competency which makes good sense.
- Communities get their value from Total Reward Steward - I've no idea where that comes from.
- And a couple of other interesting findings - Analytics Designer has a negative impact for investors - why?
- And Technology Integrator has a negative relationship for line managers and employees. This I do understand. These groups believe HR tech is reducing rather than increasing the humanity of HR.
More importantly, the most valuable activities are HR information management and for managers and employees in particular, integrated HR, ideally with all of these based upon the use of organisational capabilities.
So to me, the most interesting issue raised by the research is whether it is worth continuing to review and write about individual HR competencies. Business leaders care about the effect of the HR team not the performance of individuals. So perhaps Dave now need to start focusing on high performance HR activities instead? But that's more difficult if these need to be best fit.
Or perhaps an even more important question is whether it makes any sense to review the performance of an individual HR professional when what matters is their impact on the team, or their contribution to the HR activities delivered by the team?
And actually, extending that up a level, does it make any sense for HR to continue individual performance management as one of these team activities when what matters in other functions is also very likely to be an individual's contribution to their team, and the team's activities, not their own individual competencies?
Lastly, I think there's going to have to be more thought about the impact of competencies for different stakeholders - eg the importance of HR practitioners and teams about outside in etc. For example, regulators may care most about compliance but that doesn’t mean it’s a good decision to put HR's main focus on it.
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