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HR Competency Model

September 19, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

HR Competency Model

Six major competency domains emerged from Round 5 of HRCS.  We define the HR competencies not just as knowledge, but the ability to use this knowledge.  For example, in the past we defined the domain Business Knowledge as knowledge about the business in which an HR professional works.  In the current study, we now call this domain Business Ally, implying a more active role in applying that knowledge.  We see HR professionals needing to know, but more importantly, needing to do what they know.  The new competency model can be found below, followed by a short explanation of its organization and each competency domain 

Model Organization


This model suggests that HR professionals must master competencies dealing both with people and business (large arrows). Following on of these two paths independent of the other leads to failure.  HR professionals who emphasize the people side at the exclusion of the business side may be well liked and popular, but they will not succeed, because their work does not further business goals.  HR professionals who focus on the business side without sensitivity to the human element will also not succeed because although the business may prosper in the short term, people will not sustain the success in the longer term. 

 Within these two dimensions, we arrayed six domains of HR competence, dealing with relationships, processes, and capabilities.  Each is detailed further below.


  • 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.”  HR professionals who are credible but not activists are admired but do not have much impact.  Those who are activists but not credible may have ideas but will not be listened to.
  •  Culture and Change Steward.  The HR profession appreciates, 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 behaviors.  As stewards of culture, HR professionals respect the past culture and also can help to shape a new culture.  Additionally, successful HR professionals facilitate changes in two ways.  First, they help make culture happen.  Second, they develop disciplines to make changes happen throughout the organization.  They help turn what is known into what is done.
  •  Talent Manager / Organizational Designer.  The HR professional masters theory, research, and practice in both talent management and organization design.  Talent management focuses on competency requirements and how individuals enter and move up, across, or out of the organization.  Organization design focuses on how a company embeds capability (for example, collaboration) into the structure, processes, and policies that shape how an organization works.  HR is not just about talent or organization, but also about the two of them together.  Good talent without a supporting organization will not be sustained, and a good organization will not deliver results without talented individuals with the right competencies in critical roles.
  • 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 means recognizing business trends and their impact on the business, forecasting 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 the 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, and trained).  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.  Businesses succeed by setting goals and objectives that respond to external opportunity and threats.  HR professionals contribute to the success of the 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).  Finally, they have a good understanding of the parts of the business (finance, marketing, research and development, engineering), what they must accomplish, and how they work together, so that they can help the business organize to make money.
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