Saturday, February 20, 2010


As HR management has become more and more complex, greater demands are placed on individuals who make the HR field their career specialty. Although most readers of this book will not become HR managers, it is important that they know about the competencies required for those choosing HR as a career field.
Changes in the HR field are leading to changes in the competencies and capabilities of individuals concentrating on HR management. The development of broader competencies by HR professionals will ensure that HR management plays a strategic role in organizational success. One study by SHRM found that HR professionals must have core competencies, level-specific competencies, and rolespecific competencies. Based on these and other studies and surveys, it appears that three sets of capabilities are important for HR professionals:
-Knowledge of business and organization
-Influence and change management
-Specific HR knowledge and expertise
Knowledge of Business and Organization
HR professionals must have knowledge of the organization and its strategies if
they are to contribute strategically. This knowledge also means that they must
have understanding of the financial, technological, and other facets of the industry and the organization. As illustration, in some organizations the top HR executive jobs are being filled by individuals who have been successful operations managers, but have never worked in HR. The thinking behind such a move is that good strategic business managers can rely on the HR specialists reporting to them, while bringing a performance-oriented, strategic view of HR management to the top of the organization. In other organizations, top HR managers have come up through HR specialities, and have demonstrated that they understand broader business and strategic realities, not just HR management functional issues.
Influence and Change Management
Another key capability that HR professionals need is to be able to influence others and guide changes in organizations. Given the myriad HR-related changes affecting today’s organizations, HR professionals must be able to influence others. One study at Eli Lilly and Company found that influencing through relationship building, leadership, and effective communication are important HR competencies.
Specific HR Knowledge and Expertise
The idea that “liking to work with people” is the major qualification necessary for success in HR is one of the greatest myths about the field. It ignores the technical knowledge and education needed. Depending on the job, HR professionals may need considerable knowledge about tax laws, finance, statistics, or computers.
In all cases, they need extensive knowledge about equal employment opportunity regulations and wage/hour regulations. This outline reveals the breadth and depth of knowledge necessary for HR professionals. Additionally, those who want to succeed in the field must update their knowledge continually. Reading HR publications, such as those listed in Appendix C, is one way to do this.
PROFESSIONAL INVOLVEMENT The broad range of issues faced by HR professionals has made involvement in professional associations and organizations important.
For HR generalists, the largest organization is the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Public-sector HR professionals tend to be concentrated in the International Personal Management Association (IPMA). Other major functional specialty HR organizations exist, such as the International Association for Human Resource Information Management (IHRIM), the American Compensation Association (ACA), and the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD). CERTIFICATION One of the characteristics of a professional field is having a means
to certify the knowledge and competence of members of the profession. The C.P.A. for accountants and the C.L.U. for life insurance underwriters are wellknown examples. The most well-known certification program for HR generalists is administered by the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI), which is affiliated with SHRM. The program has seen significant growth in the number of those certified in the 1990s. Over 12,000 HR professionals annually sit for the HRCI exam now, compared with 3,000 in the early 1990s. Currently over 30,000 HRCI certified individuals are active in the HR field.
Increasingly, employers hiring or promoting HR professionals are requesting certification as a “plus.” One survey of HR professionals found that about twothirds of them felt that HR certification gave them more credibility with corporate peers and senior managers.46 Certification by HRCI is available at two levels; and both levels have education and experience requirements.
Additional certification programs exist for both specialists and generalists sponsored by other organizations. For specialists, here are some of the most wellknown programs:
-Certified Compensation Professional (CCP), sponsored by the American Compensation Association
-Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS), sponsored by the International
Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans
-Certified Benefits Professional (CBP), sponsored by the American Compensation Association
-Certified Safety Professional (CSP), sponsored by the Board of Certified Safety
-Occupational Health and Safety Technologist (OHST), given by the American Board of Industrial Hygiene and the Board of Certified Safety Professionals


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