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The importance of HR Competencies

Once in a while is good to remember the roots, after re-reading one of my favorite business books - The HR Scorecard - Huselid, Becker, Ulrich (2001) - I realized it was good to write an article combining one of the most amazing things I've found in the book + my personal experience with technology.

We experienced a sudden change regarding how and when we work, and a major factor started to take protagonist in our lives: technology. The fact that we accommodate properly to the market needs and demands is a smart way to move forward and grow a career. What I believe is mandatory is to respond quickly get out of our comfort zone and get the most out of an amazing opportunity. I know sometimes I tend to romanticize, but if you are not thinking like this, maybe you think tech will make your work disappear, let me be as romantic as I can to keep going.

A few days ago I was reviewing the book aforementioned, going through one of the best chapters I think it has - 7. Competencies for HR Professionals. This chapter focuses on describing what is needed for us, as HR Professionals, but also the importance of transforming ourselves.

Let's start from the basics, what does HR competence mean? Based on the authors, this means the combination of knowledge, skills, abilities, and personality impacting people's performance. Depending on the responsibility level, is not the same if you are an executive, a consultant, or a board member, of course.

Let me ask you a question what do you think when you think about an HR Professional? Maybe recruitment experience? or communication skills? I'm sorry but no, the thing is that the list goes above and beyond and we will go through it right now. In the following lines, you will find a list - ranked by importance and a bit of a description of specific competencies



Specific competencies

Personal credibility


  • Has track record of success

  • Has earned trust

  • Instills confidence in others

  • Demonstrates high integrity

Ability to manage change


  • Establishes trust and credible relationships

  • Is visionary

  • Proactive role regarding change

  • Encourages others to be creative

Ability to manage culture


  • Shares knowledge across organizational

  • Champions culture-transformation process

  • Translates desired culture into specific behaviors

  • Encourages executives to behave consistently with the desired culture

Delivery of Human Resources Practices


  • Express effective communication

  • Facilitates processes

  • Design development programs that facilitate change

  • Design compensations systems

  • Facilitates design of internal communication processes

Understanding the business



  • Human Resources practices

  • Organizational structure

  • Competitor analysis

  • Finance

  • Marketing and Sales

  • Technology

The list is based on research, and that's one of the things I really enjoy about this field. Evidence-based literature that we can rely on, is not someone's opinion but the result of a lot of work by a research group.

As you can imagine, this table adds a lot of complexity to what we think HR needs to perform. Sometimes the HR role is underestimated and focused on the wrong abilities, people tend to think - for example - that if you are a good communicator there's a place for you at HR, sometimes yes, but there's a solid support that's needed.

In digital workspaces, the challenge is much wider because the list of competencies - and the rest of the responsibilities - must be designed and executed in remote scenarios. I think taking advantage of technology is the main point to move forward and understand our role as HR Strategic Business Partners.


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