If your role consists of hiring, firing and organizing pensions then you and your organization are soon to be superseded, argues Dave Ulrich and his team. In their new book, the authors argue that to become more personally effective and improve the effectiveness of your business, HR professionals need to integrate six capabilities into their role, becoming a:
- Strategic Positioner – Professionals are increasingly expected to help their business achieve a competitive advantage in the market. This means one has to understand the business holistically within its market niche, to help the organization meet and crucially to anticipate business needs.
- Credible Activist – HR Professionals need a clear understanding of their organisation’s business priorities, and the personal skills to influence others to help generate results.
- Capability Builder – HR Professionals need to create a meaningful working environment for all, where business strategy, culture, practices and behavior are brought together to maximize the organisation’s capabilities.
- Change Champion – Organizational change is often contentious, and staff moral can suffer. HR professionals can help their organization by sharing learning from past experience and anticipating problematic issues to keep moral high.
- HR Innovator and Integrator – HR Professionals need to develop a clearer understanding of what talent and leadership is needed within the organization to ensure current and future success.
- Technology Proponent – All organizations struggle to a certain extent with information overload. HR professionals need to seek out ways of effectively managing and connecting talent within the organization to strengthen understanding between departments.
This is a book that challenges all those involved in HR to aim high, and understand their own actual and potential value within their current organisations and beyond.
The authors have excellent academic credentials, having operated in the sector for 25 years. They track HR trends in the US, updating their research every 5 years. This book is the result of discussions with 635 business units, and 20,000 people, and as such is a credible analysis of current thinking and working practices in the States at this time.
This is certainly a book worth reading. The authors discuss their findings clearly, and help practitioners build their own road-map to become a more strategic player. There is a six-step process for aligning HR practices with business strategy which is particularly useful. Many skill-sets are identified, so professionals can be choosy about which area to focus on when revisiting personal development plans.
But the underlying concept of the book is really quite radical – that HR professionals need to develop a customer-centric viewpoint, and thus think about their business from the ‘outside in’. And it could be argued that there still remain issues of cross- departmental communication which could more usefully be addressed within the profession, before tackling these next steps.
However, the book certainly shows clearly what a significant role HR can play to the success of a business, and thus it deserves to be on the shelf of all practitioners – and perhaps in the Christmas box of all other departmental heads. Surely the company as a whole needs to be aware of the contribution their HR people can make; and give time and access to allow people to evolve their strategic contributions. To lead in the HR space, Ulrich argues, professionals need to be able to think like the investors in their company, like the community the business is part of and like their customers. And his book will show you how.