Academic journal article International Journal of Education and Management Studies

Hierarchical and Sectoral Differences in HR Competencies

Academic journal article International Journal of Education and Management Studies

Hierarchical and Sectoral Differences in HR Competencies

Article excerpt

For obvious economic and business reasons organisations have always been concerned about the competence of their managers. Managerial competencies are the 'micro-skills' of managers, and are part of the capabilities or assets of the firm. It is these skills which allow the organisation to transform its range of various other assets into organisational competence and so improve performance. Competencies are specific to the organizations. A given organization has its own competency requirements, which may depend on the kind of business it is in. It is a business strategy decision. It is really a difficult task for the company to deal with values, capabilities, competences and skills. So, the process of identifying and developing competencies must start at the highest level in the organization. Top management must be clear about the competencies company requires and define them. Companies have to identify their competencies by interviewing the key people.Our ability to deliver effective services depends not only where we focus our resources, but also on the individual competence of the staff. If they do not have the required competence in the key services areas required by customers, they will not be able to provide effective services as individuals. In evaluating staff competence it is important to assess the effectiveness of function as a whole. This will enable us to compare the results both on an individual and organizational level and thereby identify the gaps.

Definitions of HR competencies

Any analysis of HR competencies requires careful definition because of the considerable variance in the use of the term 'competencies' in the literature. For the purpose of this study, the numerous definitions of competency can be summarised effectively as a collection of technical and cultural capabilities (Brockbank, 1997). However, it is obvious throughout the literature that different authors advocate different approaches to competency definition. For example, one particular approach to modelling competencies advocated by Ulrich et al. (1995) and Boyatzis (Yeung, 1996) includes the integration of areas of competence into groupings.

Ulrich et al. (1995) model combines various aspects of competence into three primary elements: knowledge of the business, HR functional expertise and management of change. They argue that management of change is critical, as the organisation's external rate of change (e.g. globalisation, information flow, customer expectations, technology, etc.) must be matched by the internal rate of change for the organisation to remain competitive. Irrespective of job role or job title, the elements of competence remain in the same order of importance, with any variation manifesting itself in weighting alone.

In defining HR competencies, Ulrich and Boyatzis, like many others, argue that it is necessary to consider the specific job roles of HR practitioners in order to differentiate between possible variations in requirements. The roles of human resource staff have been extensively discussed in the literature and in textbooks of human resource management (Schuler & Huber, 1993; Purcell, 1995). One work in particular by Tyson and Fell (1986) defined three dominant personnel management models based on an analogy from the building and civil engineering profession: clerk of works, contracts manager and architect. In essence, the clerk of works role focuses on the day-to-day operations carried out by the personnel department, and is often the support or administrative HR practitioner role. The contracts manager is the expert ensuring that every aspect of policy and procedure and hence the personnel department's 'contract' with the organisation is fulfilled. This role equates to that of the professional or specialist HR practitioner. The architect is the long-term designer and planner, co-ordinating the activities of other members of the department,otherwise known as the senior or strategic management HR practitioner. …

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