From HR Practitioner to HR Leader: Competencies Required

You have your CHRP designation. Now as you begin to climb the ladder to success, what else must you learn to advance your career? One start is to develop the competencies you will need to become a true HR leader. But here the confusion begins. There are many different competencies and competency models proposed by various academics and associations. If you cannot determine with confidence which to trust, how can you decide where to invest your time, money and development efforts?

This article aims to reduce the confusion as much as possible in order to make your decisions easier. Let’s begin by sampling the most important academic research into HR competencies.

Download PDF: From HR Practitioner to HR Leader: Competencies Required

Queen’s IRC Certificate Fast Facts

Did you know that we offer Certificates in Advanced Human Resources, Organization Development, Labour Relations, and Advanced Labour Relations? When you place a Queen’s University IRC Certificate on your wall, it tells your colleagues that you have received leading skills-building education and that you are a committed continuous learner.

Certificate Fast Facts:

  • You need 12 credits to earn a certificate
  • 1 credit generally equals 1 training day
  • You can take programs in the order that best addresses your learning needs or fits your schedule
  • We offer programs across Canada
  • Certificates have prerequisites, but we can sometimes substitute these prerequisites depending on your experience – you still have to earn 12 credits to earn a certificate
  • In order to receive an Advanced Labour Relations Certificate, you must first earn the Labour Relations Certificate
  • Added bonus: credits never expire and there is no set time to complete your certificate

Visit our website for more information about our Certificates.

Still have questions? Contact us at 1-888-858-7838 or irc@queensu.ca.

5 Questions to Help You “Sell” the Value of HR

In the current business environment, it can be very frustrating some days to be an HR professional. In many ways it is like we are living the first line of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

Never have there been more HR programs and initiatives that can have a direct impact on business results – and never has it been harder to get the attention, investment and commitment of business leaders to make substantive – and at times even minor – changes in order to use the full value of our HR expertise.

In many companies, while HR has been granted a “place” at the table – or earned that place – they have not yet been granted or earned an equivalent and impactful “voice” at that table.

Businesses are in a constant state of change; yet, HR often waits in line for attention and investment behind technology, and technology, and technology, and then marketing (driven more and more by technology) and finance (often driven by technology in the endless appetite for more data). I think you get the point – and if you are an HR professional you not only get the point, you are probably living it. There is an endless, jostling line-up at the money trough for change initiatives – and there is a limited amount of money, resources, “brain-space”, time or attention to handle them all.

There are three reasons why it is easier to sell a technology – or marketing or finance – investment than an HR investment:

  1. The business value of a change in technology can be easier to calculate and justify. The business case is usually more predictable and anchored in more accepted investment metrics.
  1. There is often a “business imperative” that is easier to identify and argue – “Our value proposition is falling behind our competitors because we can’t offer (fill in your own technology-driven blank) – or “Our cost base is too high compared to our industry peer group because we are not utilizing the most up-to-date technology” or “Our data security is not strong. Our customer data is at risk!”  Loudly supporting these imperatives in the popular press are studies like the recent Citibank research that claims that 57% of all existing jobs will be lost to technology in the next twenty years.[1] This is in addition to the jobs that have already been lost!!
  1. Finally, changes driven by HR are usually changes that involve – gulp!! – people! Shocking! But people – managers and staff alike – are a lot harder to manage or change than machines, or marketing campaigns or financial data sets. On top of which it is often harder to draw a direct line between a dollar investment in HR initiatives and a specific, time-bound rate of return.

The great irony, of course, that is never lost on HR professionals is that it is only by developing a well-recruited, qualified, motivated, engaged, well-managed, and competitively compensated work force that any change can be effectively evaluated and executed.

So that’s where most of us live – in a competitive, noisy, money-driven environment. What can we do?  We can teach ourselves how to sell our ideas. To sharpen our pencils and our presentation skills. To build relationships and accept small, steady, measureable victories – to accept the reality that in this day and age having good ideas and a willingness to work hard are not enough. We have to shape and sell and implement those ideas so that they can be seen to have a measureable impact on business results.

To help HR professionals “muscle up” in the realm of selling and relationship management, we have created a checklist of 5 Questions that you need to answer as you work to be heard and have impact. They are essential questions to test yourself against at the start of every project. As you read through this for the first time, we suggest that you identify a critical HR initiative that you are responsible for getting your senior management team (or your boss) to support. As you work through the 5 Questions keep a pad of paper to one side. Answer each question as clearly and honestly as you can for that initiative. In other words, let’s start by candidly admitting where we stand.

Download PDF: 5 Questions to Help You “Sell” the Value of HR

 


[1] Dyer, G. (2017, January 18). Davos: The Rich Are Worried | Gwynne Dyer. Retrieved April 06, 2017, from http://gwynnedyer.com/2017/davos-the-rich-are-worried/.

 

Transforming HR Data into Business Insight: A Closer Look at the HR Metrics and Analytics Program

Queen’s IRC recently introduced the HR Metrics and Analytics program to help HR professionals analyze metrics and transform data into powerful stories for their leaders.

Led by Queen’s IRC Director Paul Juniper and Queen’s IRC facilitator Jim Harrison, the program was designed to help HR professionals become more confident and competent in how to analyze data, how to use data properly, and how to share it in ways that can help their organization make decisions.

According to Paul, one of the key things people learn is how to link the data to the story. “Data with no story is not helpful. A story with no data is not going to be believed. You need to meld the two together.”

“Some people can be really good with the data, but they haven’t had the practice or experience at presenting to senior leadership,” Paul said. “Alternately some people who are in HR have been afraid of using data and numbers, but they’re really good with the story. They don’t know how to pull the right numbers out of the data in order to support their story.”

Brenda Grape, an HR Business Partner at AMI, recently attended the HR Metrics and Analytics program. “I was really thrilled with it. It definitely went above what I expected.” Brenda said that she really got a lot out of the case studies, specifically being able to focus on how she wanted to present the story that goes with the numbers, as well as focus on the numbers that back the story.

“I loved the overall pace and format of it. I liked the pieces of lecture, but I love the practical hands-on approach.”  She is already using the knowledge and skills she learned at the HR Metrics and Analytics program back at work. “I’m utilizing the tools on a regular basis.”

Brenda enjoyed the interactive nature of the program, and being able to work with other people. “It was a good group of people, all bringing different perspectives.” She said that coming from a small organization, it was good to get a variety perspectives, including from HR professionals in larger organizations and other industries.

Heather Francis, Manager of Employee Benefits for High Liner Foods, also participated in the HR Metrics and Analytics program.  “For me, the lecture style learning is important as well as the collaboration, the ability to talk to my colleagues sitting around the table, and to learn from them as well,” she said.

“When I was thinking about HR and analytics, just because I’m so new to it, I was thinking on a very, very small spectrum. Through the course, I’ve been given a tool box of things that I can use and apply. I’m very interested in where it’s going to take us in the next year to five years. I think it’s a very good program.”

Post-program evaluations have given HR Metrics and Analytics a very positive response, with participants citing the right mix between lecture and teamwork, and the practical application of the concepts learned as the most valuable aspects.

Kenji Nuhn, a Human Resources Reporting Specialist at CAA South Central Ontario, said it can be a little chaotic trying to make sense of all the data in HR. “What this program has done for me is given me a very solid foundation to work off of. It’s a very clear and organized way of thinking.”

He values the tools and frameworks that were presented in the program. “It’s given me a very easy way to organize my data, and a very simplified way to make recommendations through the data that I collect, interpret, and report on.”

Facilitator Jim Harrison describes this program as a real working session, a sentiment echoed by Brenda Grape and other attendees. Participants work through a number of case studies during the three-day program, in addition to the option of working on a real-world project.

“We ask you to bring a live project or a live situation from your organization,” Jim said. “You get to apply the tools and the templates and what you’ve been learning, and we give you direct feedback on that. We think that it’s really important that if people are going to take the work that they’re doing in the program back into the real world, we bring the real world into the program to let them work on it directly.”

Michael MacBurney is the People Relations Manager with WestJet. He chose the HR Metrics and Analytics program because his organization has recently put HR at the business table. “This program, I felt, could provide me with some tools, a different way of thinking, a different skill set to take back to that table and be a better asset to the company.”

Michael enjoyed the being able to work in groups to really get a good grasp of some of the concepts that were being taught, before taking them back to the real world. “I think in HR specifically, we see a lot of theory doesn’t necessarily translate into practice,” Michael said. He valued being able to draw off others’ experience and learn how things work in other organizations, so he could draw correlations into what might work within his organization.

“It’s been eye-opening to understand it’s not just solid numbers that you’re taking back to the business,” Michael said. “It’s really a bigger picture, in that you need to essentially captivate your audience, tell the story and understand what story you’re hoping your business to understand.” Other points that resonated with him included not getting too lost in the numbers, really understanding what you’re trying to solve when analyzing numbers, and using the numbers to support your argument. “I definitely recommend Queen’s IRC programs to any individual who’s looking to take something new back to their organization.”

Facilitator Paul Juniper believes this program can be beneficial to all organizations. “It will help them bring clarity to what information they’re collecting and why, and what they’re going to do with it. Some organizations leapt into metrics quite early. What they found is now they produce massive amounts of data and the data is distributed. Unfortunately people don’t know why they’re getting it and they don’t know how to use it. There’s a need for some organizations to take a step back and say, ‘What are we going to collect and why? How are we going to use it? How are we going to report on it?’ This course will teach you how to do all of those things.”

 

To see upcoming dates and locations for the HR Metrics and Analytics program, please visit our website: HR Metrics and Analytics

Aligning HR Strategies to Create Business Success

Aligning HR Strategies to Create Business SuccessI have personally witnessed HR’s evolution from the back room to the board room, from tactics to strategy, and to assuming ownership of the business and its outcomes.  The HR profession has advanced dramatically since the days when I began my career as a recruiter, and we certainly have come a long way from the days of the “Personnel Department” managing things like payroll or vacation requests, and reporting into finance and accounting. I am proud of this evolution which I refer to as the professionalization of the human resources profession.

I have been most fortunate to be part of some great Canadian companies such as CAE Electronics, Bell Northern Research, Northern Telecom and CIBC where I gained both global HR and business expertise.  Recently I became the Director of Corporate Services of DST Consulting Engineers Inc. I support the CEO, the senior leadership team and all our employees through the delivery of aligned HR strategies that support the business in achieving success.

So how does an HR Practitioner start their journey from entrant into the profession to becoming a CHRO or CEO? Well there are no steps to skip. First you need to develop your HR and business acumen. Whether you decide on an individual specialist or generalist career track you must roll up your sleeves and learn your craft and the business. To be successful as an HR practitioner you must both master core HR services and develop a structured holistic business alignment strategy that I refer to as the HR Framework.

The HR Framework

In its simplest form it is made up of five components:

1.  Strategic Business Planning and HR Alignment

Encompassed in this component are board strategies, corporate vision, mission and values.  HR is a pivotal player in facilitating the creation of a business roadmap. Tools such as strategic plans, employee engagement surveys and corporate SWOT analysis will validate decisions and outputs. Without such strategic business planning process skills, HR cannot be a full participant in the process. HR is called upon to make some unique contributions to this process such as organization design, leadership competencies, compensation philosophies and performance management.

2.  Talent Acquisition (Attraction, Recruitment and Onboarding)

This second component is about understanding business requirements such as workforce planning, talent attraction, social media recruiting, employer brand, technical and skill projections, assessment tools, onboarding and regulatory training and deliverables of key competencies.

3.  People Management

This third component includes employee communications, learning plans, business skills and competencies, training and employee development, internal promotion, performance management and improvement coaching, team optimization, management training and employee engagement.

4.  Compensation, Rewards and Recognition

This fourth component refers to pay-for-performance, incentive programs, market data analytics, rewards, benefits, diversity and equity programs and board governance and HR committee compensation strategies.

5.  Employee and Leadership Development

This fifth component includes leadership development program design, mentoring, on the job development and career development assignments, competency development and succession planning.

Making it Work

In order to enable all the above components work together, one must leverage HRMS data and analytics, keep abreast of regulatory employment practices, develop an acute understanding of change management and organizational development, and build strong relations with business partners and all stakeholders internal as well as external.  Dave Ulrich puts it simply… to be effective as a CHRO one must deliver “operational excellence”. One has to deliver the basics flawlessly to gain a seat in the “C” suite. However the reward is huge and your contribution to the business’s success, shaping the firms strategy and your impact on the culture is immense.

The Future of the HR Profession

So what do I see in the future for the HR profession? The more enlightened CEOs are those that fundamentally understand that people are the only sustainable differentiator. Anyone can buy equipment and tools, copy processes, and drive success in the short term. However you can’t buy people’s energy, commitment, and creativity. That’s where HR comes in, creating engagement, the buy in to something bigger, the mission and meaning rather than the money that embeds long term sustainable business success.

Businesses can only gain competitive advantage through their people strategies. Talent management and leadership are critical to address the scarcity of resources and demographics. Today the pace of change in business is seismic, globalization is a reality and societal issues affect all our communities. There are many other business drivers too numerous to detail here. I truly believe that HR leaders must find ways to develop integrated HR strategies in order to create a sustainable HR /business framework.

I believe it is truly an exciting time for all human resources professionals. HR practitioners who understand all the linkages in terms of attraction, development motivation and retention will succeed.   HR is fast becoming recognized as essential in facilitating organizational and business success. It really is our time as professionals! We need to “grab the bull by the horns” and prove once and for all that we belong in the “C” Suite.

About the Author

Philip C. Wilson

Philip C. Wilson, CHRL, CHRE, gained over thirty years of progressively responsible experience in business and the HR field. He is currently Director Corporate Services (formerly the Chief Human Resources Officer) for DST Consulting Engineers Inc. where he is responsible for the quality and depth of talent that differentiate DST in the marketplace, while supporting their ability to deliver on strategic goals. At Felix Global Corp., he provided board governance consulting advice, coached executives, delivered career transition support and facilitated business strategic planning. He provided global leadership as Vice President H.R. at Corel Corp. As Senior Vice President H.R. at CIBC Phil led a global, multi-functional team of HR professionals (125) responsible for CIBC’s executive leadership and training programs, organizational development, executive resourcing, global recruitment strategies, and business process outsourcing. Philip received the Queen’s University IRC Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Human Resources Industry at the 2015 HR Awards.

References

Ulrich, D. (1997). Human resource champions: The next agenda for adding value and delivering results. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Does HR Really Want to Professionalize?

Do we really want to professionalize?

That is a really good question—but there are layers to that question.  For some years, the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) asked the following question on its annual member survey: ‘Do you agree that the professionalization of HR is, or should be, an important issue for the profession?’  The results appear to show an overwhelming support for the professionalization of HR.  But then again, professionalization is not defined in the survey; we really don’t know what respondents have in mind when they think of professionalization.  In previous Queen’s IRC articles (Balthazard, 2014a, 2014b, 2015a, 2015b) we have seen that professionalization is a quid-pro-quo—that is, the profession has to give to get.  The get is easy—enhanced status, respect, and remuneration.  The give, however, is discussed much less often.  Did the survey respondents carefully consider the gives and the gets of professionalization and decide that the net benefit of professionalization was positive before answering the question?  Probably not.  But this is something that needs to be worked through.  If the support for professionalization is simply a reflection of the idea that it would be nice to have more status, respect, and remuneration as HR professionals, then the support may be shallow.  If professionalization is sold solely based on its benefits, then there is the danger of feeding into this shallow support.  Deep support for professionalization requires that the gives be considered as much as the gets.

Download PDF: Does HR Really Want to Professionalize?

Help Wanted: HR Analysts

Get ready to see this job ad a lot in the near future. 2016 seems to be the year when HR Analytics hits the windshield of our corporate bus. There is an increasing demand from organizational leaders for evidence-based decision making.

Unfortunately I think it will take a while for our certification programs in HR to fully integrate these needs into the supporting training.

At present we can end up with a situation where we have lots of data but unfortunately, it isn’t the data we need, or it isn’t accessible in a meaningful way.

So, to be successful at HR analytics what do we need?

  1. We need a real business problem to work on. Sometimes people work on a problem because it is one that we have data for, but it doesn’t really solve an organizational need. To be successful, the first thing you need is a business or organizational problem where analyzing data would help provide a solution.
  2. We need to choose the right tools. Unfortunately if the only tool we have is a hammer, all problems can look like nails.  So it is necessary to have several analysis methods in our tool chest and know which one to use in which circumstance.
  3. We need the analytical skills to select the data we need and draw conclusions from it.
  4. We need to be able to decide how to present the information to people who haven’t been living with it.
  5. Lastly and very importantly, we have to be able to use the data to tell a story. Data without a story will not be acted on.  A story without data won’t be believed.

If all this sounds daunting, it shouldn’t. It is a matter of breaking it up into small enough bits to not be intimidated, and then putting the bits together in a coherent way.

The ability to do HR analytics work is soon to be an essential part of every HR professional’s toolkit.

Want to learn more? Check out the new Queen’s IRC HR Metrics and Analytics program.

About the Author

Paul Juniper, Director, Queen's IRC

 

 

 

 

Paul Juniper (MA, Geography (York); CHRL; SPHR; SHRM-SCP; Honourary Life Member, HRPA) is the Director of the Queen’s University IRC. As a leading and respected figure in Canada’s HR community, Paul has over 30 years of experience in human resources and association leadership. Paul is particularly sought for his views on the future of the human resources profession. He speaks regularly at conferences on trends in human resources, and the ways in which individuals and their organizations can continue to raise the bar on HR. Paul developed and designed the Queen’s IRC Advanced HR Certificate to meet the increasingly complex professional

Creating a Mentoring Culture for Organizational Success

Mentoring is a management practice that can assist organizations in building a desired corporate culture, while enabling the careers of those who are already motivated to pursue one. It is an efficient and effective method of shortening the learning curve of new executives and providing more knowledgeable employees with broader perspectives. New executives with a mentor have a sounding board, as well as the benefit of their mentor’s experience as they navigate through situations that may be unfamiliar to them. Based upon a foundation of trust, the relationship of mentees with experienced executives can offer a safe place to try out ideas, skills, and roles with minimal risk, while focusing on their individual development needs.

In this article, I will discuss the impact a mentoring culture can make in an organization, how mentoring differs from coaching, the value of a structured approach to mentoring and the steps to set up a mentoring program.

Successful Mentorships

Mentoring is defined as a professional and confidential relationship between two individuals that assists one of them in developing “business strategies” and acquiring new “technical” knowledge and skills. One mentee concluded, after a year-long mentoring relationship in a structured program I designed for a large public sector organization,1 that: “It is an evolutionary process, where mentors become a resource for someone enabling an exchange of ideas and experiences. Avoid matching of those who have known each other a long time… the forging of the relationship is a valuable part of the process.”

Download PDF: Creating a Mentoring Culture for Organizational Success

An Inquiry into the State of HR in Canada in 2013: Executive Summary

Queen’s University Industrial Relations Centre (Queen’s IRC) is pleased to announce the release of An Inquiry into the State of HR in Canada in 2013. This executive summary is based on a survey of over 400 HR practitioners and explores the current and changing state of the HR profession in Canada. It also compares the findings with our 2011 survey, An Inquiry into the State of HR in Canada in 2011.

The questions in the first section of the survey were designed to better understand the demographic characteristics of HR practitioners, their roles and responsibilities, the characteristics of the organizations for which they work, and the career development strategies of HR practitioners. This section of the survey plays an extremely important role in determining who is practicing HR, where HR practitioners fit into contemporary organizations, and the strategies used by HR practitioners and their organizational sponsors to develop and advance individual careers and the profession as a whole.

The second section of the survey sought practitioners’ perspectives on the HR profession in Canada. It  included questions about the extent to which the HR function shapes organizations’ strategic directions, the importance of various activities to the HR function, practitioners’ involvement in the same activities, the knowledge and skills required by practitioners, the HR challenges facing organizations, practitioners’ outlook on the future of HR in Canada, and organizational HR priorities. This section included both qualitative and quantitative questions. This mixed methodology is important in understanding the broader trends and challenges facing HR practitioners and the profession as a whole.

Download Executive Summary (PDF)

Grow Your HR Career by Helping to Grow Your Organization

“Argh…it’s frustrating,” said Jennifer, taking another bite of her kale and apple salad. “He drops these articles in my inbox as part of our new mentoring agreement. I’m not sure how to think about it.”

“What is it this time?” Nicole, Jennifer’s friend in marketing communications, replied. “I think it’s cool you have a mentor. Not only do you get to assist your VP in running the talent management program for the company, you’ve been chosen for the ‘Rising Stars’ program.”

“I know,” said Jennifer. “It’s just frustrating to get articles about the future of HR and how senior leaders don’t always value what we do in an organization. I love HR. I love having a degree in HR. I worked hard for my credentials. I just don’t get it.”

“Why don’t you ask him?” Nicole retorted, as she dashed off to her appointment with the company webmaster. “He’s got his reasons. Ask him.”

In my teaching and consulting practice, HR professionals often recount stories like this.  Someone, somewhere, makes a disparaging remark about human resources as a “dead end”, “non-value add” or “being the department that just gets in the way.”

Here’s the news. This is no longer truth. This is wonderful time to be an HR professional. It’s time to grow into a true business partner. It’s time to be seen as someone who “gets it.” In the same way that the finance and technology functions have moved from the “number crunchers” and the “geek squad” to strategic business partners, it is time for HR professionals to step into strategic human capital management roles with a full understanding of what that means to their organization.  In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Ram Charon and others (Ram Charon, 2015, p. 63) write that “it’s time for HR to make the same leap that the finance function has made in recent decades and become a true partner to the CEO.”

Download PDF: Grow Your HR Career by Helping to Grow Your Organization

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