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Ulrich on New HR Competencies - Why Attitude is Required...

Imagine a world where HR folks were as aggressive and opinionated as media-types like Jim Rome or Bill O'ReillyJim_rome_sm

Maybe that's not such a good idea...  But Dave Ulrich would tell you a lot of us need to migrate in that general direction.  Ulrich is back in the spotlight with a recent research study entitled "New Competencies for HR", profiled in this month's HR Magazine.  The result?  After grinding through 10,000 participants (1,700 HR types being evaluated, 5,000 associate raters (HR peers and colleagues of the HR types being rated), 3,300 non-HR associate raters), Ulrich found the top competencies driving relative success of HR professionals to be the following:

  • Credible Activist
  • Cultural Steward
  • Talent Manager / Organizational Designer
  • Strategy Architect
  • Business Ally
  • Operational Executor

Couple of quick thoughts on this, then I'll come back to the survey and the new competencies over the next couple of weeks.  First, only two of the competencies involve activities most HR-types see as part of their core role - Operational Executor (payroll, benefits, policy, etc.) and Talent Manager (some would say that a lot of us don't focus enough on the Talent side). 

The other competencies will seem a little fuzzy at first - for example, Credible Activist, Cultural Steward, Strategy Architect and Business Ally?  Ulrich's explanations of these and their relative importance is pretty sound and definitely worth a print and read.  The main thought is similar to what Ulrich and others have been saying for years - get the transactional stuff handled (can't ignore it) and move forward in your evolution.  For items like the Credible Activist, it actually means ceasing to worry about being liked and whipping out a little opinion/attitude - or as I like to say (credit to Jim Rome) - Have a Take (similar to opinion for all you non-clones out there)...  That's a tough transition for some HR types. 

Also, if you like Ulrich, find him quarterly in the print version of Workforce Management beginning on June 25th.  More info at    


robert edward cenek

Dave Ulrich once again is advancing the study of what differentiates top HR leaders from the also rans.

I particularly like your opening sentence. When I reflect on who I have considered to be effective HR leaders they tend to be individuals who can be very assertive, are bright and do not test which way the wind is blowing before taking a position. They are able to hold their own in the executive suite, and add insights to strategic discussions that are on par with their functional peers.

Incidentally, you have a great blog - and I particularly like the substance that you're offering. Keep up the good stuff!

robert edward cenek
Uncommon Commentary on the World of Work

Scott Golas

Oh yeh, these NEW HR competencies will catapult the profession much further than the last ones did. LOL When HR "professionals" quit trying to define their next new taxonomy or the next iteration of human resources naming (remember personnel?) they might have a chance of actually learning how business operates. Its only when I stopped acting like an HR-type that I really enjoyed business.

HR people, you want to improve you career opportunities, and enjoy your role more? Stop listening to the HR gurus who've been filling your head with theory to sell books and videos. Save yourself some money and cancel your SHRM one other than another HR person has any idea what those goofy designations (e.g. SPHR) stand for. Well at least you'll impress the other PHR's at the next SHRM annual field trip.

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