Read Solomon’s article (“Put Your Ethics to a Global Test”)  below.Examines the ethical challenges in a global environment.What are the issues?How do you suggest that we deal with these issues?What is HR’s role?When building a code of business ethics, is abiding by the laws, fair treatment of employees, and showing basic respect enough in a global environment?  About 2-3 pages.grossman.docxGrossman, R. (2007, Jun). New Competencies for HR. HRMagazine. Vol. 52, Iss.
6; pg. 58, 5 pgs.
New Competencies
for HR
Robert J Grossman. HRMagazine.
Alexandria: Jun 2007. Vol. 52, Iss. 6; pg. 58, 5 pgs
Abstract (Summary)
Conducted under the auspices of the Ross School of Business at the University of
Michigan (UM) and The RBL Group in Salt Lake City, with regional partners
including the Society for Human Resource Management in North America and
other institutions in Latin America, Europe, China and Australia, Human
Resource Competency Study is the longest-running, most extensive global HR competency study
in existence.Researchers identified six core competencies that highperforming HR professionals embody. They include: 1. credible activist, 2. cultural
steward, 3. talent manager/organizational designer, 4. strategy architect, 5.
business ally, and 6. operational executor. As a start,Dave Ulrich, professor of business
administration at the UM, recommends HR professionals consider initiating three
conversations. One is with your business leaders. Review the competencies with
them and ask them if you are doing them. Next, pose the same questions to
your HR team. Then, ask yourself whether you really know the business or if you
are glossing on the surface.
Full Text (2952 words)
Reprinted with the permission of Society for Human Resource Management
(, Alexandria, VA.
Researchers have updated the portfolio of competencies for highperforming HR professionals.
What does it take to make it big in HR? What skills and expertise do you need?
Since 1988, Dave Ulrich, professor of business administration at the University of
Michigan, and his associates have been on a quest to provide the answers. This
year, they’ve released an all-new 2007 Human Resource Competency Study
(HRCS). The findings and interpretations lay out professional guidance for HR for
at least the next few years.
“People want to know what set of skills high-achieving HR people need to
perform even better,” says Ulrich, co-director of the project along with Wayne
Brockbank, also a professor of business at the University of Michigan.
Conducted under the auspices of the Ross School of Business at the University
of Michigan and The RBL Group in Salt Lake City, with regional partners
including the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) in North
America and other institutions in Latin America, Europe, China and Australia,
HRCS is the longest running, most extensive global HR competency study in
existence. “In reaching our conclusions, we’ve looked across more than 400
companies and are able to report with statistical accuracy what HR executives say
and do,” Ulrich says.
“The research continues to demonstrate the dynamic nature of the human
resource management profession,” says SHRM President and CEO Susan R.
Meisinger, SPHR. “The findings also highlight what an exciting time it is to be in
the profession. We continue to have the ability to really add value to an
“HRCS is foundational work that is really important to HR as a profession,” says
Cynthia McCague, senior vice president of the Coca-Cola Co., who participated
in the study. “They have created and continue to enhance a framework for
thinking about how HR drives organizational performance.”
What’s New
Researchers identified six core competencies that highperforming HR
professionals embody. These supersede the five competencies outlined in the
2002 HRCS-the last study published-reflecting the continuing evolution of the HR
profession. Each competency is broken out into performance elements.
“This is the fifth round, so we can look at past models and compare where the
profession is going,” says Evren Esen, survey program manager at SHRM, which
provided the sample of HR professionals surveyed in North America. “We can
actually see the profession changing. Some core areas remain the same, but
others, based on how the raters assess and perceive HR, are new.” (For more
information, see “The Competencies and Their Elements” on page 60.)
To some degree, the new competencies reflect a change in nomenclature or a
shuffling of the competency deck. However, there are some key differences.
Five years ago, HR’s role in managing culture was embedded within a broader
competency. Now its importance merits a competency of its own. Knowledge of
technology, a stand-alone competency in 2002, now appears within Business
Ally. In other instances, the new competencies carry expectations that promise to
change the way HR views its role. For example, the Credible Activist calls for HR
to eschew neutrality and to take a stand-to practice the craft “with an attitude.”
To put the competencies in perspective, it’s helpful to view them as a three-tier
pyramid with Credible Activist at the pinnacle.
(Note by Smola: Summary table of these competencies are at the end.)
* Credible Activist. This competency is the top indicator in predicting
overall outstanding performance, suggesting that mastering it should be a
priority. “You’ve got to be good at all of them, but, no question, [this competency]
is key,” Ulrich says. “But you can’t be a Credible Activist without having all the
other competencies. In a sense, it’s the whole package.”
“It’s a deal breaker,” agrees Dani Johnson, project manager of the Human
Resource Competency Study at The RBL Group in Salt Lake City. “If you don’t
come to the table with it, you’re done. It permeates everything you do.”
The Credible Activist is at the heart of what it takes to be an effective HR leader.
“The best HR people do not hold back; they step forward and advocate for their
position,” says Susan Harmansky, SPHR, senior director of domestic restaurant
operations for HR at Papa John’s International in Louisville, Ky., and former chair
of the Human Resource Certification Institute. “CEOs are not waiting for HR to
come in with options-they want your recommendations; they want you to speak
from your position as an expert, similar to what you see from legal or finance
“You don’t want to be credible without being an activist, because essentially
you’re worthless to the business,” Johnson says. “People like you, but you have
no impact On the other hand, you don’t want to be an activist without being
credible. You can be dangerous in a situation like that.”
Below Credible Activist on the pyramid is a cluster of three competencies:
Cultural Steward, Talent Manager/Organizational Designer and Strategy
* Cultural Steward. HR has always owned culture. But with SarbanesOxley and other regulatory pressures, and CEOs relying more on HR to manage
culture, this is the first time it has emerged as an independent competency. Of
the six competencies, Cultural Steward is the second highest predictor of
performance of both HR professionals and HR departments.
* Talent Manager/Organizational Designer. Talent management
focuses on how individuals enter, move up, across or out of the organization.
Organizational design centers on the policies, practices and structure that shape
how the organization works. Their linking reflects Ulrich’s belief that HR may be
placing too much emphasis on talent acquisition at the expense of organizational
design. Talent management will not succeed in the long run without an
organizational structure that supports it.
* Strategy Architect. Strategy Architects are able to recognize business
trends and their impact on the business, and to identify potential roadblocks and
opportunities. Harmansky, who recently joined Papa John’s, demonstrates how
the Strategy Architect competency helps HR contribute to the overall business
strategy. “In my first months here, I’m spending a lot of time traveling, going to
see stores all over the country. Every time I go to a store, while my counterparts
of the management team are talking about [operational aspects], I’m talking to
the people who work there. I’m trying to find out what the issues are surrounding
people. How do I develop them? I’m looking for my business differentiator on the
people side so I can contribute to the strategy.”
When Charlease Deathridge, SPHR, HR manager of McKee Foods in Stuarts
Draft, Va., identified a potential roadblock to implementing a new management
philosophy, she used the Strategy Architect competency. “When we were rolling
out ‘lean manufacturing’ principles at our location, we administered an employee
satisfaction survey to assess how the workers viewed the new system. The
satisfaction scores were lower than ideal. I showed [management] how a
negative could become a positive, how we could use the data and follow-up
surveys as a strategic tool to demonstrate progress.”
Anchoring the pyramid at its base are two competencies that Ulrich describes as
“table stakes-necessary but not sufficient” Except in China, where HR is at an
earlier stage in professional development and there is great emphasis on
transactional activities, these competencies are looked upon as basic skills that
everyone must have. There is some disappointing news here. In the United
States, respondents rated significantly lower on these competencies than the
respondents surveyed in other countries.
* Business Ally. HR contributes to the success of a business by knowing
how it makes money, who the customers are, and why they buy the company’s
products and services. For HR professionals to be Business Allies (and Credible
Activists and Strategy Architects as well), they should be what Ulrich describes
as “business literate.” The mantra about understanding the business-how it
works, the financials and strategic issues-remains as important today as it did in
every iteration of the survey the past 20 years. Yet progress in this area
continues to lag.
“Even these high performers don’t know the business as well as they should,”
Ulrich says. In his travels, he gives HR audiences 10 questions to test their
business literacy. (To take the test, see the online version of this article
at www.shrm .org/hrmagazine/07June.)
* Operational Executor. These skills tend to fall into the range of HR
activities characterized as transactional or “legacy.” Policies need to be drafted,
adapted and implemented. Employees need to be paid, relocated, hired, trained
and more. Every function here is essential, but-as with the Business Ally
competency-high-performing HR managers seem to view them as less important
and score higher on the other competencies. Even some highly effective HR
people may be running a risk in paying too little attention to these nuts-and-bolts
activities, Ulrich observes.
Practical Tool
In conducting debriefings for people who participated in the HRCS, Ulrich
observes how delighted they are at the prescriptive nature of the exercise. The
individual feedback reports they receive (see “How the Study Was Done” on
page 61) offer them a road map, and they are highly motivated to follow it.
Anyone who has been through a 360-degree appraisal knows that criticism can
be jarring. It’s risky to open yourself up to others’ opinions when you don’t have
to. Add the prospect of sharing the results with your boss and colleagues who will
be rating you, and you may decide to pass. Still, it’s not surprising that highly
motivated people like Deathridge jumped at the chance for the free feedback.
“All of it is not good,” says Deathridge. “You have to be willing to face up to it.
You go home, work it out and say, Why am I getting this bad feedback?’ ”
But for Deathridge, the results mostly confirmed what she already knew. “I
believe most people know where they’re weak or strong. For me, it was most
helpful to look at how close others’ ratings of me matched with my own
assessments. … There’s so much to learn about what it takes to be a genuine
leader, and this study helped a lot.”
Deathridge says the individual feedback report she received helped her realize
the importance of taking a stand and developing her Credible Activist
competency. “There was a situation where I had a line manager who wanted to
discipline someone,” she recalls. “In the past, I wouldn’t have been able to stand
up as strongly as I did. I was able to be very clear about how I felt. I told him that
he had not done enough to document the performance issue, and that if he
wanted to institute discipline it would have to be at the lowest level. In the past, I
would have been more deferential and said, ‘Let’s compromise and do it at step
two or three.” But I didn’t do it; I spoke out strongly and held my ground.”
This was the second study for Shane Smith, director of HR at Coca-Cola. “I did it
for the first time in 2002. Now I’m seeing some traction in the things I’ve been
working on. I’m pleased to see the consistency with my evaluations of my
performance when compared to my raters.”
What It All Means
Ulrich believes that HR professionals who would have succeeded 30, 20, even 10 years ago, are not as
likely to succeed today. They are expected to play new roles. To do so, they will need the new
Ulrich urges HR to reflect on the new competencies and what they reveal about
the future of the HR profession. His message is direct and unforgiving. “Legacy
HR work is going, and HR people who don’t change with it will be gone.” Still, he
remains optimistic that many in HR are heeding his call. “Twenty percent of HR
people will never get it; 20 percent are really top performing. The middle 60
percent are moving in the right direction,” says Ulrich.
“Within that 60 percent there are HR professionals who may be at the table but
are not contributing fully,” he adds. “That’s the group I want to talk to…. I want to
show them what they need to do to have an impact.”
As a start, Ulrich recommends HR professionals consider initiating three
conversations. One is with your business leaders. Review the competencies with
them and ask them if you’re doing them. Next, pose the same questions to your
HR team. Then, ask yourself whether you really know the business or if you’re
glossing on the surface.”
Finally, set your priorities. “Our data say: ‘Get working on that Credible Activist!’ ”
See the summary of competencies and their elements on the next page.
The Competencies and Their Elements
The six competencies and the elements that make them up offer the outlines of what it takes to be successful.
The Credible Activist is respected, admired, listened to and offers a point of view, takes a position and
challenges assumptions by:
* Delivering results with integrity.
* Sharing information.
* Building relationships of trust
* Doing HR with an attitude (taking appropriate risks, providing candid observations, influencing others).
The Cultural Steward recognizes, articulates and helps shape a company’s culture by:
* Facilitating change.
* Crafting culture.
* Valuing culture.
* Personalizing culture (helping employees find meaning in their work, managing work/life balance,
encouraging innovation).
The Talent Manager/Organizational Designer masters theory, research and practice in both talent management
and organizational design by:
* Ensuring today’s and tomorrow’s talent.
* Developing talent
* Shaping the organization.
* Fostering communication.
* Designing reward systems.
The Strategy Architect knows how to make the right change happen by.
* Sustaining strategic agility.
* Engaging customers.
The Business Ally contributes to the success of the business by:
* Serving the value chain.
* Interpreting social context
* Articulating the value proposition.
* Leveraging business technology.
The Operational Executor administers the day-to-day work of managing people inside an organization by:
* Implementing workplace policies.
* Advancing HR technology.
How the Study Was Done
After HR professionals were invited to participate, those who accepted rated themselves and asked their supervisor
from within HR to rate them. They also chose additional raters familiar with their HR role from among HR peers or
associates, line executives, or internal and external customers outside the HR function.
As incentive, each HR participant received at no charge an individual feedback report that includes a self-score and
associate rater averages. In addition, HR executives from each participating company received a company average,
regional average and global norm.
Globally, nearly 10,000 individuals representing nearly 400 organizations joined the study (see chart below), including
about 1.700 HR participants, 5,000 associate raters and 3,300 non-HR associate raters.
As with 360-degree appraisals, associates answered 225 questions such as, “Is the respondent effective at building
relationships of trust?” They rated against a scale of 1 to 6. with 1 representing “very little extent” and 5 representing
“very large extent.” (A rating of 6 represented “not applicable/don’t know.”)
Seventy-five percent of HR respondents had at least four years of college. Seventy-four percent of HR participants had
10 years or more of professional experience, while only 51 percent had served that long in HR, suggesting that more
people are choosing HR later in their careers. A little more than a third (36 percent) were top HR managers in their
organizations. A third were HR managers (33 percent), and 30 percent were individual contributors.
Human Resource Competency Study (HRCS) participants are top-tier professionals. When raters were asked to
compare the HR person they were rating with all human resource professionals they have known, they placed 87
percent of the HR participants within the top 30 percent, and almost three-quarters in the top fifth. HR participants from
the United States scored even higher. Only 3 percent of the more than 8,000 responders to the question placed their HR
professional in the bottom 50 percent of HR professionals they have known.
Ulrich is pleased that HR participants are regarded so highly. “We’re looking at the top 20 percent of HR executives
and telling others what they have to do if they want to get there themselves. Significant progress has been made over
the past 20 years, when HR was just beginning to make its case for ‘being at the table.’ Now, two-thirds of the survey
participants are there. These are high performers. They’re at the table and making a meaningful contribution.”
Although Ulrich acknowledges limitations in the complex undertaking-such as over- or under-representation of some
business sectors and rating differentials between regions that are difficult to explain fully-Ulrich calls the HRCS the
Mercedes of competency studies and the biggest and best of its kind. “Is it perfect? Is it indicative of the whole world?
No. But it is the best that’s out there.” he says.
-Robert J. Grossman
Online Resources
SHRM has created online development tools based on the new HR Competency Study:
* Self-assessments: Individual competencies are assessed and compared with global norms
* 360-degree survey with individual participation: Individual competencies am assessed and compared with global
norms, and participants ask others to rate their competences.
* 360-degree survey with company participation HR professionals at a company complete the assessment and are rated
by others on their competencies. The company receives a company report, and each HR professional receives an
Individual feedback report compared with global norms.
For more Information about these online tools, go to
In addition, see the online version of this article at www.shrm.ora/hrmagazine/ 07 June for links to:
* A self-test to measure your business literacy.
* An HR Magazine article by Dave Ulrich about connecting the HR function to external customers.
Ulrich believes that HR professionals who would have succeeded 30,20, even 10 years ago, are not as likely to succeed
[Author Affiliation]
Indexing (document details)
Human resource management, Managerial skills, Personality traits, Research
Classificat 9190 United States, 6100 Human resource planning, 2200 Managerial skills
ion Codes
Locations: United States–US
Author(s): Robert J Grossman
Document Feature
Document Photographs
HRMagazine. Alexandria: Jun 2007. Vol. 52, Iss. 6; pg. 58, 5 pgs
n title:

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