Mapping the development of HR professionals

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s HR profession map has completely restructured how HR will develop and train its members and, by extension, how it measures success as an HR practitioner.

The map covers not only what an HR professional needs to know but also how they need to work. Core behaviours – the way they relate to the client, the business and their colleagues – as well as technical elements of competence are now required.

The map is a great step forward for modernising standards and guiding HR practitioners in their development, and underlines the findings of Orion Partners’ 2004 research. This showed that how people use their technical skills and knowledge is what makes a difference to performance.

Our experience over the past five years tells us that to successfully create and run this type of professional HR development there are some golden rules:

1. The development must address the individual on three levels:

  • Mindset – the beliefs they hold about the function, their role and themselves.
  • Capability – the skills needed in their new role; what they need to do.
  • Relationships – how they work with their clients and/or their HR colleagues.

2. The development should employ multiple channels – on-job development as well as learning events, methods to embed the learning and self-directed development options. A balanced portfolio of all channels creates maximum effectiveness. For example, on-job opportunities that may include:

  • A well-structured and well-supported stretch assignment can be one of the most challenging and rewarding growth experiences a person can have.
  • Jobshadowing of HR business partners by sharedservice centre staff can be enlightening and useful. Job shadowing of line clients by HR business partners can be equally eyeopening.
  • Methods such as guided reading mean that people with different learning preferences benefit. For example, a client we worked with gave people a recommended book, inserted a comment card inside, and encouraged them to read the book, note the most relevant or insightful sections and then pass it on to someone they felt might find it useful.
  • You could set up a virtual learning community on the company intranet, which gives access to materials, websites, books and other tools. You could add a forum for the exchange of ideas to help to ensure that the learning continues to be discussed and applied.

3. In a development event, such as a workshop, methods that help the ideas stick include using real business issues instead of fictitious case studies. This will make the transfer of learning to the workplace easier. Rather than focusing on theory, include lots of practical tools and techniques for everyday application.

4. In off-job learning, use facilitators who take a coaching approach that helps participants learn from experiential exercises rather than telling them the answers. Support the application of ideas provided by designing tools such as learning journals and logs and insight capture.

5. Other development techniques should form an integral part of the programme – eg, setting up a buddy or coaching scheme. The buddy approach involves pairing two people with similar development goals so they can support each other’s learning. Alternatively, use internal or external coaches or co-coaching schemes.

6. Identify role models; those people who work with the client and the business in the desiredway. Give exposure to the role models as part of a structured development programme. Experiencing how role models deploy their technical knowledge, influence and manage client relationships will give others the courage to adopt the same approach.

We have found that learning how to deploy technical skills and knowledge is a multi-faceted process. The people who succeed build a learning community that continues to learn together and extends the knowledge throughout the workplace. The advantage is that the learning is reinforced and can be applied as new issues come up in your business.

Jan Hills, HR capability partner, Orion Partners

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