HR people have to focus on building personal credibility


Changes in the nature of business in the last decade have placed new demands on Human Resource Practitioners. New research points to personal credibility as the key competency for HR people in this new era.

The Human Resource Competency Study (HRCS) is an ongoing study by Dave Ulrich and Wayne Brockbank, in cooperation with the Michigan based Ross School of Business and The RBL Group.

Since its initial launch in 1988, outcomes of this study have shaped thinking in the HR profession and helped HR professionals and Human Resource departments add greater value to their organisations. The study identifies the key competencies needed for HR professionals and tracks the major trends in the field of Human Resource management.

According to the latest HRCS report, factors such as the increasing rate of technological innovation and global competition for consumers, shareholders and the best talent, has placed companies under pressure to be "more productive, to be faster and more agile, to produce more exacting quality, to accelerate innovation, to provide better service, to generate greater returns, and to more fully utilise their people to respond to these challenges'.

The study identified the five key competencies needed for HR professionals in this context: an understanding of the organisation's business; knowledge of best practices; the ability to manage culture; the ability to manage change; and personal credibility.

It was personal credibility, though, that rated as the most critical competency for today?s HR Practitioner.

So what makes personal credibility such an important part of achieving results?

The answer lies in the need for HR Practitioners to develop a relationship of trust with their clients, i.e. management, and to instil confidence. For example, it is important to line managers that HR leaders are trustworthy, conscientious with sensitive information, and offer valuable and credible insight to the organisations? leadership.

Personal credibility therefore is the foundation for an HR professional to become intimately involved in at the strategic level in an organisation. Without this foundation of trust, HR Practitioners may very well find themselves excluded from the strategy table.

But how exactly can HR Practitioners go about developing this critical competency?
It goes without saying that they need to promise and deliver results, build effective relationships and establish a reliable track record. In addition, they must have effective written and verbal communication skills.

Central to the development of personal credibility in order to meet the challenges of today?s business world, is the vital element of self-knowledge and awareness on the part of the HR Practitioner.

With a greater self-awareness and knowledge of their own strengths and personal profile, HR Practitioners are in a better position to develop and sustain the important relationships needed for their role in formulating Human Resource strategy and contributing to the process of adding value through people.

Similarly, education providers tasked with developing HR Practitioners need to be cognisant of the changing demands on these leaders and their need for credibility. This has implications for the nature of the training these institutions offer.

Assisting HR Practitioners to develop their personal credibility requires delving into the realm of personal development, ensuring that HR leaders are developed in a holistic way that allows them to grow in self-knowledge along with acquiring the hard skills they need for the strategic challenges they face.

This attention to self-knowledge and personal growth is a key part of a number of generalist development programmes, but now needs to come to the fore as a means for HR Practitioners to succeed in their new strategic role in the business.

In addition to competence and knowledge in the various functional areas of the Human Resource profession there is a need to create development and self reflection opportunities through team and inter- team work, personal feedback and personal profiling in a safe development environment.

Organisations are demanding greater value being added by the HR profession. With special attention to developing credibility, HR Practitioner?s will have an opportunity to respond to these demands and make a significant impact on organisational performance and the realisation of value from one of their most critical and intangible assets, their people.

Dave van Eeden is Director of the new Human Resources Practitioners Programme (HRPP), running at the GSB from 10 - 22 September. For more information, contact Shireen Brown on (021) 406 1370 or [email protected]za. You can also visit