Wednesday, Dec 4, 2002

A Published Articles of Chandramowly

Leadership Competency Series

Building right HR competencies
HR function, in organisations of all sizes is undergoing fundamental change, like the other changes happening in different domains. There is a need to respond to the demands of the new situation emerging from the globalisation and IT era. It is only a daydream if some HR professionals mistakenly assume that traditional maintenance activities of employee programmes, specific to Indian organisations will continue for some more years. Employee accessible systems have taken away the old proprietary of personnel department maintaining HR records. HR manuals and employee related information is made available today on internal database in most of the organisations and it will soon reach others, either managed internally or as outsourced. Toll free numbers, employee service centres, interactive voice mail systems have replaced administrative activities. Proactive HR mangers quite rightly see the changing landscape of HR as a challenging opportunity to assume key roles in organisations. HR Value Addition One of the significant opportunities of HR is to come up with new methods of adding value, developing new competencies. It certainly develops oneself to get accepted at the table as strategic business partner. This new role cannot be performed, based on current assumptions and structured conventional HR approach. Hr value addition can be clearly seen in the areas of strategic HR advice, effective use of HR Information Systems, Performance Management System, Rolling out competencies for organisational and employee development, applying HR mind to raise productivity and reduce period costs and most importantly aligning employee behaviours with business objectives. The competencies required for new HR professionals are under focus today. HR professionals will need a range of new competencies to support the changing nature of human resource practices.

Competencies – HR Linkage
Competency refers to an individual’s demonstrated knowledge, skills, behaviours, experience, life view and values. Competencies are observable, behavioural acts that require a combination of all these attributes to execute and derive a business result. Competencies are demonstrated in a job context and, as such, they are influenced by an organisation’s culture and work environment. Though the responsibility for people management is shifting on to business managers, few may disagree on the importance of HR role as specialists in humane arena. It reflects certain developmental and motivational aspects and the ability to look at the bigger picture of the organisation beyond one single business unit, suggesting right choices to fit people in appropriate positions. It is well known that an attractive compensation alone cannot retain a competent employee for long. I have seen some cases, wherein the best employee of a business unit, who is well respected and acknowledged for his performance, sought for a change to try out some thing new in an interesting opportunity. If his aspirations are captured well in time, had the company provided some challenging job befitting his motivational needs, he would not have left.

HR professionals must establish joint accountability for leveraging financial, technological and people resources to create competitive advantage. While HR's administrative role is decreasing, their strategic and consultative business role is on the increase. There are great opportunities for their role in establishing right processes, revisiting/ reviving systems in line with business needs, putting in place a robust competency model and so on. In the past, rule breakers were of big challenge for HR. Now, HR has to take that role of challenging the rules and innovatively come out with different set of requirements to build a right culture to facilitate employee commitment to organisations.

Organisational need is an opportunity for HR
HR professionals can look through the organisational needs and carry out competency analysis to determine the real need for training to take the company forward in learning a new way of looking at the issues. To illustrate, a case of failure of an employee in some job aspect of becomes a HR issue. In such a case one can say that it is primarily a fitment issue. HR must get deeper and understand whether that employee was provided with the work direction and tools needed to perform his job. Was there a clear understanding of job expectation? Whether it is a right match of temperament and talent for the job? It is always better to do this exercise before venturing in to hire a replacement candidate, who will be mostly untested on actual result delivery.

Generic HR Competencies
Given here is a portfolio of some HR competencies. In practice, no single professional is required to demonstrate or master all the human resource competencies. Generating models for specific roles or jobs can be accomplished by selecting competencies from various parts of the framework to build a profile that matches the performance needs of a particular organisation setting.

Organisation mission focus
Includes an understanding of general business principles, industry/occupational dynamics and specific operational details that needs to be considered when performing all aspects of the job; actively contributing to both organisation and HR strategies, practices, processes, policies, and services that result in success of the mission; and applying understanding of external dynamics to develop tactical and strategic human resources initiatives and linking them with organisation objectives. Effective decision making Resolving problems and make decisions based on reasonable analysis of information, needs, objectives, alternatives and consequences, applying good judgment and sound business thinking . Willingness to make decisions in difficult situations and live with the consequences. Integrity & Ethics Demonstrating consistency between words and actions, (“walk the talk”), performing with honesty, ethics and respect for shared values; e.g., respect for individuals, concern for environment, respect for confidentiality and gaining trust of others. Initiate change Identifying opportunities for actions as they arise and move forward without being asked to do so, taking initiative to bring about change, accepting responsibility for decisions, actions and errors as situations require. Innovation, creatively Generating and recognising imaginative, unusual or original ideas and solutions to issues or problems,

encouraging creativity and innovation in others, challenging established norms and procedures, developing creative ways of doing work and accomplishing objectives. Managing information Discovering and applying new information quickly, sorting through large amounts of information to identify information of value/relevance, evaluating quality and accuracy of data and analysing interpretation of information to reach useful conclusions. Applying technology Understanding and applying current technology and data management, usage of PC applications effectively; e.g. e-mail, document processing, spreadsheets, databases, HRIS etc. Chairing a task force to survey users on information system requirements and to assess capability of current HR information system of the organisation. Developing and implementing a revised HR information systems plan based on the overall data analysis and business needs. Managing personal time and organisation Setting personal priorities and allocate time/resources accordingly, eliminating tasks of no value, leveraging through teamwork/work of others and balancing multiple priorities and managing stress. Developing personal capabilities Identifying capabilities required for future roles, actively learning from experience (including failures), identifying personal development needs and pursue self-development through personal study, training and education, and work-related initiatives. Communicating effectively Speaking clearly and effectively one-on-one, in small groups, or in large groups, conveying information and ideas effectively, encourage open discussion with others, developing and delivering prepared or spontaneous presentations appropriate to the audience, topic and intended results. Writing clearly and effectively using appropriate style, tone, format, and vocabulary. hearing and comprehend speaking of others without interruption, relating content to relevant contexts so as to interpret the information and determine its meaning and implications for action. Influencing on acceptance of ideas Shape expectations of others regarding needed change, using effective methods to gain acceptance of ideas or plans, persuading others to a point of view and achieving agreement on objectives and courses of action. Demonstrating caring/sensitivity Showing a genuine interest in others and sensitivity to the needs and feelings of others, valuing diversity of viewpoints and backgrounds, making others feel comfortable and valued, effectively handle situations where others behave inappropriately. Relating well with others Interacting effectively with other people, establish rapport with others and make them feel at ease, eliciting opinions and ideas of others and strive to understand other points of view. Networking to get things done Understanding the organisation and people in the business, effectively developing and using contacts across the business to obtain and share needed information and to bring about change.

M R Chandramowly The author is Corporate Vice President - HR, Praxair India