What's New in HR Development?
As the human resources departments of many organizations assume new responsibilities and face new challenges, many companies are seeking to enhance the competence of their HR staff. But how are they defining the requirements of the HR function? How are they developing HR professionals and managers? What are their sources of future HR talent? How are companies planning and coordinating the staffing and development of HR professionals?
In an effort to answer these questions, this article reports the findings of our survey and an analysis of their implications, and presents case examples of organizations that are leading the way in HR development. The responses and examples clearly illustrate that HR development is under going marked and rapid change in an era of opportunity and excitement. We contacted a number of companies that we knew were addressing these issues. The 41 HR professionals who responded to our questionnaire represent such diverse companies as 3M, Unisys Corporation, Shell Oil Canada, Kendall Company, Ethyl Corporation, Shell Canada, Union Carbide, Pier-Angeli Company, Norwest Corporation, Holiday Corporation, Revco, Ciba-Geigy Pharmaceuticals, Hallmark Cards, ARCO Oil and Gas Company, Cray Research, Northrop, Chase Manhattan Bank, and Weyerhaeuser Company.
Sixteen respondents reported that they have defined the competencies required of their human resources professionals. Four of these have developed an overall list of requirements that apply to all HR staff, and seven have developed different lists for different staff levels or benchmark positions. Others use such approaches as an employee-involvement circle to define requirements. One company got stalled when people involved in defining competencies could not agree on how various factors should be weighed.
The companies that had developed overall lists had used these approaches:
* Developed a comprehensive function model with a six-point continuum of behavioral measures for each competency.
* Identified the skills and experience needed to meet the changing needs of the business and achieve the vision set out for the HR function.
* Developed a list of requirements applying to all HR professionals, following the development of a mission for the HR function.
* Appointed a committee that met for two years to address the development of HR professionals. One of its tasks was to produce a list of HR competencies.
Such lists are simple and understandable, and they enable a group of people to reach a consensus. They provide and overall set of standards that all can apply.
The companies that developed different lists for different levels or benchmark positions did so for a variety of reasons. Commented one respondent, "We sought to be flexible in definitions of competencies, and to give credence to the individual who `owns the job.'" Another wrote, "The roles are so specific to each company/major division that to try to do a generic cut may not add value - it becomes a little too bureaucratic for me!"
These respondents' companies followed these approaches:
* Developed organization analysis study, concentrating on key HR jobs.
* Worked with internal staff and used survey descriptions to list key activities and competency levels for managers and individual contributors.
* Used interviews, surveys, job analyses, and external company research to develop several sets of requirements.
* Analyzed requirements of selected positions, focusing on needs for the 1990s, and discussed these requirements with key customers/clients in the company.
* Used an internal team and an outside consultant to develop two lists: one of executive …