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HR Roles Web

The Evolving Roles of HR Professionals

A traditional Outlook

In today’s organizations, human resource management is undergoing a major transformation. Earlier, HR practitioners were expected to play the role of traffic cops in their organizations, and it was their responsibility to identify noncompliance from the organization policies and procedures, and then punish transgressors— just as traffic cops do when monitoring and issuing tickets to drivers who violate traffic rules and regulations. To the keen-eyed HR professional, contrariwise, the new role of HR  demands practices that differ substantially from the traffic cop and compliance mind-set and transcend to facilitate progress and change rather than stand in its way of transformation and progress.

 

Not long time ago, HR primary focus was on recruitment and selection, compensating, training, policies and other programs that focused on employees and compliance. To align HR work to business strategy and to deliver substantial and tangible results to the organization, HR professionals must continue to deliver value and produce positive outcomes for key stakeholders— customers, investors, line managers and employees and many others. Becoming the bellwether for HR, the value received and perceived by stakeholders render the HR departments credibility, respect and influence.

 

HR Evolution:

Focusing on maximizing HR effectiveness must start by defining value. Though introducing an HR portal really transforms the way of delivering HR administrative services, for example, it does not offer a full transformation of HR but a partial one rather. HR must begin changing the way to think about HR’s roles in delivering value to stakeholders rather than just delivering administrated HR services. Changing one practice such as recruitment and selection, training, compensation or performance management does not create a transformation in HR department. There must be created therefore an event sustainability which implies that HR is not about one isolated activity;  rather, it is about sustainable and integrated solutions among all HR practices to add and create value, and deliver business results. Hence, HR transformation must change both behaviours and outputs.

 

HR New Challenges:

HR exists in organizational environments that are as turbulent as the competitive environment companies are operating in. Adapting to the organization internal and external environment rapid changes, companies take measures, introduce initiatives to change the organization, change the way it runs, change the way of managing its human resources and ultimately change the expectations of and relationships with employees.

 

HR professionals can tremendously play a significant role in contributing to the formulation of business strategy and developing integrated HR strategy and solutions. In as much as they are concerned with people issues, HR professionals must also work closely with line managers on issues of performance and productivity to deliver business results and create a substantially sustainable business performance and improve the organizational capabilities to perform effectively and reach the organization’s goals. A CIPD research conducted in 2010, ‘The Next Generation’, emphasized that HR professionals must be ‘insight-led’ which symbolizes a wake-up call for HR professionals to have a deeper understanding of business, organizational and contextual factors.

 

Amalgamation of Roles for HR Professionals:

The roles of HR Professionals diverge commonly according to the extent to which they are generalist, specialists, the level at which they work, the need of the organization and their own capabilities. They can act as strategic partners, employees advocate, business partners, facilitators and coaches.

 

  • Employee Advocate: Employees are the essence and elixir of success. They are increasingly critical to the success of any organization and hence they remain the centerpiece of HR work. HR professionals need to maintain equilibrium between viewing the world from the employees’ perspective— listening to them, showing empathy and sympathy, responding to their needs, attending their concerns and solving their issues— and from line managers’ perspective alike. In brief, the role of HR professional here ‘focuses on how employees prepare for the future’. The focus of Employee Advocate’s role is ‘today’s employee’.
  • Human Capital Developer: The role of HR professional here is to identify the significant necessities and requirements for talent and talent management. In brief, the focus here is ‘on how employees prepare for the future’.
  • Functional Expert: The role of HR professional here  is to be as innovative and creative of finding variety of ways in which their HR core technical expertise can be utilized and deployed to add and create value. Since HR practices are key to HR Value, they can be expanded to embrace administrative efficiency through the deployment of technology, policies and procedures and others.
  • Strategic Partner: This role demands HR professionals to work closely with line managers at all levels and collaborate to help them reach their goals. HR professionals bring change, know-how, learning and consulting to line managers and collaborate so that together can create value. This strategic business partnership involves partially crafting winning strategies by focusing on the right decision and having informed opinion about what does the business need. Besides, HR Professionals focus also on executing the business strategy by aligning HR systems to help accomplish the organization vision, mission and strategic objectives.
  • HR Leader: The summation of the four previous roles ‘equals Leadership’ through leading the HR function, collaborating with other functions to ensure vertical and horizontal alignment across the organization along with corporate governance in place. Leadership starts from home, so HR leaders must lead and value their own function because if they do not embrace and implement HR practices on their own ‘turf’, they will jeopardize their credibility and maybe lose it completely when presenting ideas to others. In brief, recruitment and selection, training and development, performance management and communication within the HR function must be top of the line.

In order for HR professionals to add value to their businesses and deliver results, they have to perform complex and even antithetical roles of paradoxical combination. However, no one plays the five roles to the same degree because the importance of these roles varies from one organization to another where some have primary importance and others are of a secondary one. When HR professionals master all these roles and play them well, they will be able to add value and deliver business results.

 

References:

Armstrong. M. (2012) Armstrong’s Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice. 12th edition. London: Kogan Page.

Dubois. D., D., and Rothwell. W., J. (2004) Competency Based Human Resource Management. USA: Davies-Black Publishing.

Lawler III, Lawler. E., E. & Mohrman, S., A. (2003) Creating a Strategic Human Resources Organisation. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Ulrich, D., and Brockbank. W. (2005) The HR Value Proposition. USA: Harvard Business School Press.

Ulrich. D., Younger. J., Brockbank. W., and Ulrich. M. (2011) Competencies for HR Professionals Working Outside-In. USA: The RBL Group White Paper Series.

Ulrich. D. (1997) Human Resource Champions: The Next Agenda for Adding Value and Delivering Results. USA: Harvard Business School Press.

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