A new study shows that HR managers in the UK are most troubled by office politics and the struggle for influence, while their counterparts in Norway feel that empathy and listening skills are far more important.
The findings come from a detailed comparison of the state of the HR profession carried out by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) in association with HR Norge. A similar comparative study was also carried out in Poland.
When asked what the most important competencies were for HR professionals, influence and political skills were chosen by 61 per cent of UK HR professionals, compared with just 25 per cent in Norway.
Norwegian HR professionals also felt the need for empathy, communication and listening skills far more keenly than their UK counterparts.
The importance of HR as a strategic player across all countries was clear. More than half of all the respondents in the three countries rank the time spent on business strategy as 'most important' in terms of their contribution to the organisation Ð and the most popular desired role in all countries was 'strategic business partner'.
When it came to describing their current role, some differences were evident. While HR business professionals in the UK are most likely to see their role as 'strategic business partners' (33 per cent), in Norway and Poland, they are more likely to see themselves as 'administrative experts' (37 per cent).
There was broad agreement on the key priorities for the HR functions across the three countries. Notably more emphasis is placed on securing compliance with employment regulations in the UK.
The UK was also more likely to view diversity as an issue, with 29 per cent of respondents highlighting this factor compared with 13 per cent in Norway and 9 per cent in Poland.
Rebecca Clake, CIPD adviser, organisation and resourcing, said: "This survey shows that we [people managers] have much in common, but also that there are differences in the contexts in which we work."
Even Bolstad of HR Norge, a national HR organisation in Norway, said: "Norwegian