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Carl Jung (eminent Swiss Psychologist) was asked shortly before his death what he would like to be remembered for.  Interestingly enough, he said ‘a remover of obstacles’.  In other words, he recognised that people have abilities, talents and hopes and that most of the time these are not realised to their full potential because of other people’s imposed rules and regulations; the fact that what should be pretty straightforward is made unnecessarily complex.

Well, the same is true when developing your HR Professionalism.  Keep it simple!!!  Create opportunities to practice; make sure people have a good sense of what ‘good looks like’; provide ongoing positive and constructive feedback.  We have learnt at CourageousHR that the best learning happens from direct experiences in the workplace and that HR Leaders need to be constantly on the look-out to provide these development opportunities to their team and ensure they have the tools to do their job.

In fact, research backs this up as it shows that it is critical to HR’s customers that its function ‘gets the basics right’ and is ‘responsive’.  Customers want proactive and appropriate HR support from proper professionals.  This means having real ‘expertise’ based both on theory and evolving good practice, in order to give consistent, fair and reliable information and advice.

What seems to be happening is that those in HR who excel in the new Business Partnership environment are those who are always looking forward and are trying to stay ahead of the game.  They recognise that what they knew and did yesterday may not be good enough for tomorrow.  Basically, they demonstrate their excellence in HR Professionalism by their high level of relevant HR knowledge.  Most critically, they are able to apply their HR knowledge in pragmatic and business ‘value adding’ ways to organisationally significant people and strategic HR matters by actively seeking opportunities to work with strategic and influential leadership team members.

In other words, such high performing HR Professionals have high levels of self-efficacy (i.e. self-belief, self-confidence and clarity of purpose) so they have the professional confidence to thrive in challenging and uncertain conditions. 

So, HR Professionalism is a fundamental requirement for any HR person if they are to be effective and impactful.  It is based on understanding the business and being able to respond to ever changing demands of the business needs.  This in effect means they are able to deliver on most or all of these:

  • Adjust HR strategies to respond to changing needs;
  • Identify critical HR metrics;
  • Respond to new business strategies;
  • Identify talent issues before they affect the business;
  • Prioritise across HR needs;
  • Redesign structures around strategic activities;
  • Understanding the talent needs of the business

So, how does HR actually go about developing its HR Professionalism?  At CourageousHR our basic advice is pretty simple:

  • Be clear what you know about HR and understand what more you need to learn
  • Only provide advice and guidance in areas of your expertise
  • Commit to continuous learning e.g. trying new experiences and taking new challenges
  • Seek out HR and organisational ‘best practices

We also recognise that HR needs to learn and develop as a community not as individuals so we are passionate about setting-up internal ‘HR Best-Practice Communities’.

When you think about it your HR Function will have a wealth of untapped HR expertise.  You, as well as many of your colleagues, have many different experiences and practices which have probably not been identified and / or not adopted as ‘best-practice’.  So, by establishing ‘HR Best-Practice Communities’ the overall level of HR professionalism will be developed.

  • Hold regular discussions on your organisation’s situation
  • Discuss press announcements and internal communications with team members and ask them what they believe are the implications for your organisation and your people
  • Discuss business situations which gives rise to People and HR issues / decisions which affects the HR Community and / or the HR Strategy
  • Encourage individuals to ask questions about your organisation, HR and its people
  • Encourage individuals to talk to company experts in their own field

The final blog in this series on HR Professionalism will explore specific development activities which you and your HR Function can put into practice.

To find out how CourageousHR can support the development of your HR Function please email [email protected] to arrange a call to discuss your specific development needs.