Friday, October 22, 2010

HR Skills Upgrade Trumps the Table

For those of you that have been reading my blog over the last 8 weeks, you know that I have been to four major conferences. I have attended:

I was able to meet and chat with two of my HR heroes. I spoke with Dave Ulrich at HR Florida and Jac Fitz-Enz at The Conference Board. I had one thing on my mind when I listened to their presentations and then asked questions afterwards.
What is the future for my profession?
As I synthesize everything I have heard over the last 8 weeks, it is crystal clear to me that HR needs a skill set overhaul. Here are some of my observations:

1) Dave Ulrich is writing a new book about the additional competencies that HR needs as an update to his book HR Competencies, that had been our go to book on HR competencies. He did say relationship building skills and analytical skills would be added. I am sure there are others, but these two we definitely mentioned.

2) Jac Fitz-Enz and others at The Conference Board believe that if HR doesn't start obtaining statistical capabilities or recruit that talent to perform predictive analytics, another function will. That worries me. Google already have their 3/3 model which confirms this statement. I wrote about this model a few weeks ago. Basically Google has 1/3 of it's HR staff specializing in HR, 1/3 are statisticians an 1/3 are business consultants.

3) I think HR professionals get it now that they need business acumen. The Business Acumen track at SHRM Atlanta had standing room only for all of its sessions. Here is my concern with business acumen; it is harder for HR to learn the business than it is for other functional specialist to learn HR. I see many operational, financial, and accounting professionals come through my HR classes to learn HR because the business sees value in their business experience in HR. Sound familiar, back to the 3/3 model.

So let's lay the current environment on my observations:
1) Our country is crawling out of a recession
2) Companies are doing more with less both as a company and HR
3) HR still has not proven value (in general)
4) HR as a profession got hit hard by layoffs during recession
5) The business is more demanding now in terms of showing impact and insight with HR investments.
6) HR outsourcing is growing and will continue to grow

So, we have companies that are looking outside HR to get expertise and we have HR jobs being outsourced and eliminated...what do we do?

I don't mean to be a downer, I want to be a motivator. I love this profession, I want us to be business leaders. I want us to be able to work hand in hand with the CEO providing him/her with valuable insights and impact data so that the company can grow and kick their competition's butt. I want HR leaders to be a talent pool for the CEO position.

I want us to ACT and ACT's not about the table's about a fundamental shift in HR's value proposition.


elaine said...

hello Cathy, interesting post, thank you. In terms of the new HR value proposition, my mantra is "It is time for HR to wake up to CSR" - see my post on XpertHR which covers this

Basically, my proposition is that the way for HR to save the profession and contribute to doing better business is through adapting HR management to embrace the principles and practices of Corporate Social Responsibility - this means developing a broader stakeholder perspective, learning some new skills and modifying existing processes. As the world needs to become more sustainable, so does the HR profession. I will also mention, if I may, my book on this subject which is a comprehensive guide for HR managers which you can read about on

warm regards
elaine cohen

Unknown said...


Thans you so much for reading. I appreciate you the link to the blog post and to the book. I like the idea of sustainability. What a great concept.

I can't wait to read your guide for managers.


Michael D. Haberman, SPHR said...

Cathy, excellent post. I too noticed that the business acumen sessions were filled at SHRM Atlanta's conference. I hope it was because people wanted to learn and they were not just there to get their strategic credit. I am not so sure, but I hope the message is getting across. I hope your message gets across.

Unknown said...

Thanks is one that I have believed in for awhile and I know you do a well. I want our professional to besought after as problem solvers, and one that provides impact. It's so important....

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