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HR Competencies: Mastery at the Intersection of People and Business
Through vigorous regression modeling and hypothesis testing, David Ulrich and his contemporaries have created a
framework for the HR Professional to structure the various key elements of this field. These consist of 6 individual
competencies that all have component factors which, through rigorous statistical analysis, have been ranked in terms
of importance by HR practioners, stakeholders and a variety of demographic cuts of the respondent populations.
The 6 Competencies are:
1) Credible Activist:
The HR professional is both credible (respected, admired, listened to) and active (offers a point of view, takes a
position, challenges assumptions).
a) Delivering Results with Integrity Consistency of actions, of values, of professional demeanour, of the
foundations of HR practices.
b) Sharing Information Able to articulate and persuasively communicate ideas to others.
c) Building Relationships of Trust Create an atmosphere of trust that results in positive working
relationships with key internal and external constitutes.
d) Doing HR with an Attitude Having a strong, informed opinion and speaking up – even when it may be
contrary to what the rest of the leadership team is saying.
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2) Culture and Change Steward:
The HR professional appreciates, articulates, and helps shape the company’s culture.
a) Crafting Culture A clear concept of the culture that is required by your business – defining it in ways well
understood by internal and external participants, stakeholders and observers.
b) Facilitating Change Teaming with management to ensure decisions are quick; human financial &
informational resources are aligned with the desire to change; monitor the progress of key changes
initiatives; capture lessons learned; and apply these lessons to improve future change efforts.
c) Personalizing Culture Help employees find purpose and meaning in their work; line of site from
contribution to success of the organization.
d) Enacting Culture Ensure that culture is consistent, coherent and cohesive across all business functions
and stakeholders – using culture to unify different areas of the organization to build the understanding
that we are better ‘whole’ than a sum of ‘parts’.
3) Talent Manager and Organizational Designer:
The HR professional masters theory, research, and practice in this areas of focusing on competency
requirements and how individuals enter and move up, across or out and how the organization embeds
capacity into the structure, processes and policies.
a) Ensuring Today’s and Tomorrow’s Talent ‘finding’, ‘mining’ and ‘aligning’ the right people, skills and
talents at the right price and time// Talent = competency x commitment x contribution.
b) Developing Talent (individual) Setting performance standards, means for development, mechanisms for
measurement appropriate and timely feedback.
c) Shaping the Organization (whole organization) Combination of Organizational Development (change
interventions at the organizational level) and Organizational Structure (laying out the future, required
structure for the organization to meet its goals).
d) Fostering Communication In all directions (horizontally and vertically) and understanding its power as
the main driver for building the organizations reputation.
e) Designing Reward Systems Both transactional and strategic
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4) Strategy Architect
Has a vision for how the organization can “win” in the marketplace, now and in the future. Recognizing
business trends and their impact on the business, forecasting potential obstacles to success, and facilitating
the process of gaining strategic clarity. Linking internal organization to external customer/client expectations.
a) Sustaining Strategic Agility ‐ understand the business strategy and align HR practices with it – identify
problems central to the business strategy, market trends, impacts on the business, direction and
b) Engaging Customers – understanding the impact of internal systems and processes on the external
customer key to strategic architecture
5) Operational Executor
The transactional side of the HR professional that sets the operational aspects for managing the people side of
the business: drafting/adapting/implementing policies, administrative services (payroll/relocation/benefits)
and ensuring standardized levels of competency with technology (training).
a) Implementing Workplace Policies – ensuring that day to day activities and systems are adhered to and
that they support the ongoing smooth operation.
c) Advancing HR Technology – ensuring greater understanding, acceptance and use of HR information
systems as a way of achieving fast and less expensing transactional costs.
6) Business Ally
Knowing the social context or setting in which the business/organization is successful. Also knowing how the
operation makes money or achieves goals which is called the value chain of the organization: who the
clients/customers are, why they buy goods / access services. Finally have a good idea of the other business
areas such as finance, marketing, R&D, engineering, etc) what they must do for the business and how they
a) Interpreting the Social Context – Understanding and appreciating the increasing value of “Goodwill” in the
competitive environment. – Linking up to setting cultural expectations.
b) Serving the Value Chain – understanding all activities and influences that compromise the value chain
from operations to productive value to stakeholders.
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