During the 1990s HRM has been in the throes of a radical transformation. The HR function is being transformed into a significant management function. Where HR departments fail to recognize their responsibilities to become vital members of the management team, line managers are reaching out to take con­trol and ownership of the various HR functions. Although line managers need an understanding of HRM, the technical aspects should be delegated to professional HR staffs.


Looking ahead, both line and HR executives agree that a proactive and strategically oriented HR function will be critical. There is a need for dramatic changes from centralized and functionally organized HR units to more flexible and decentralized units. This will necessitate more supervisory involvement in HR activities.

There will likely be is a new role model for the HR department and its function. The future will support the concept of shared responsibilities between line managers and HR managers. The single greatest attribute of the HR staff will be the ability to educate and influence line managers on HR issues.

In 1989, a study prepared for the Society for Human Resource Management was conducted to determine what pressures organizations face today, what they must do to remain competitive, what the role of HR is in providing a competitive advantage, and how this role is changing. A leading question in the survey was “What distinguishes superior HR performance from average performance?” The study found a clear link between an organization’s level of success and the effectiveness of its HR leadership.

During the course of the study more than twenty CEOs and more than fifty practitioners participated in determining the role they expect HR to play in meeting competitive and organizational challenges. This information was used to create the Senior-Level HR Competency Model shown below.

The purpose of this model is to define and describe the competencies required of superior HR leaders from the perspective of both CEOs and HR practitioners. Study the individual competencies within each of the five clusters: goal and action management, functional and organizational leadership, influence management, business knowledge, and HR technical proficiency.

While the HR competency model was prepared as guidance for HR leaders and those who aspire to such positions, the knowledge and skills within the individual clusters can be used as a guide by anyone who wishes to succeed in a work organization or as an entrepreneur.

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