The changing role of HR


Human resource practitioners have new demands on them, says Lizanne de
Jong, leading HR specialist. In the past HR practitioners were seen and used as
glorified administrators. The new demands relates to the critical role of strategic
business partner.

Ulrich, Brockbank, Yeungand Lake (1995) propose that HR professionals
demonstrate competence when they add value to their business by delivering
ideas, programmes and initiatives to their business to help the business become
more competitive. Ulrich et al. developed a three-domain framework for
conceptualising HR competencies consisting of:

Knowledge of business

HR must know the financial, strategic, technological and organisational
capabilities of the business. HR must have the ABILITY to understand the
business issues.

Delivery of HR practices

The HR professional must be an expert in HRM. Knowing and being able to
deliver state-of-the-art innovative HR practices to organisational members builds
the credibility of HR

Management of change processes

HR must be able to manage the changes taking place outside the
organisation and mirror the changes inside the organisation. As a change agent,
the HR professional will be able to diagnose problems, build relationships with
clients, articulate a vision, set a leadership agenda, solve problems and
implement goals.

Personal credibility

Credible HR professionals meet commitments, improve others' results and
always act with integrity.

Various other researchers also mention flexibility, adaptability, intellectual
independence, business knowledge and creative innovative thinking.

Ulrich and Brockbank (2005:21-22) mention that HR professionals and their
stakeholders too often operate in separate worlds. As a HR professional, you
are required to create and deliver value to the business. Value is defined by the
receiver and not by the giver of value. Delivering value as a business partner
has the following implications:

Insight and understanding of the realities that influence business on a
macro scale (outside the organisation) as well as on a micro scale (inside the

Understanding and insight into business processes and areas of
A solid understanding of the perspectives of others in the business (i.e. line
management) and not imposing HR beliefs, values and goals on other parts of
the business;

Understanding who the stakeholders are in delivering a HR value proposition. HR
needs to understand who are the key stakeholders, what is important to them,
what is important to them and what do they want;

Focusing on deliverables and assist line managers to reach their goals. Your
recommendations must align with the line manager's goals, not yours.
You need to understand that that HR starts with the business and your
knowledge of the business is crucial.

Part of your journey in increasing your HR competencies is to understand the
business and determine the specific value proposition that you can offer to your
business unit. The new role as strategic partner required you to change the
perception of line management to see HR as a strategic business partner.

Changing the perception of the line manager to see the value of a HR
strategic partner is to build trust, get to the real line issues, offer deliverables
and helping the line manager to develop capabilities to create an action plan for
delivering them.

The crucial differentiator in HR as business partner is not what you know but
rather what you do with the business knowledge. Ulrich and Brockman (2005:236)
state that HR professionals must understand the company as well as the
industry they work in. Making a strategic contribution where they build a culture
linked to external clients and to the business strategy, requires substantial
knowledge of clients and strategy.

There are three sub-factors: value chain knowledge (what links market
demand with internal supply) (56%) of overall impact, knowledge of the
company's value proposition (28%) and labour knowledge (16%).

As a new HR practitioner, it is difficult to grasp all the new demands and
make a difference in business. The Alusani® training course for new HR
professionals will unpack the new demands of business, bring you up to date
with labour relations and legislation, help you to recruit and manage talent and
manage performance in the business.

The Human Resources for New HR Professionals course is held by Alusani Skills and Training Network®. For more information call 011 447 7470 email [email protected] or visit the Alusani Skills and Training Network®website