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Developing Professional Practice

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Introduction and terms of reference
This report will demonstrate my understanding of what is required to be an effective and efficient HR professional and apply CPD techniques to construct, implement and review a personal development plan. The report will discuss the CIPD HR Profession Map and how the framework and standards within it define a HR professional. The professional areas, the bands and the behaviours will be outlined and the two core professional areas as well as two behaviours will be evaluated to explain how they uphold the concept of ‘HR Professionalism.’ Examples from the knowledge and activities in band 2 will be used in support. The four concentric circles of HR Professionalism will also be discussed using examples to explain why HR professionals need to be able to manage themselves, manage groups or teams, manage upwards and manage across the organisation. Methodology

To complete this report academic texts and websites, including the CIPD website, were used to gather information and give support to the opinions and statements shared. Findings

The HR Profession Map, launched in 2009, is a framework that sets out the standards HR professionals should follow. The map was developed by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in conjunction with HR practitioners in a range of organisations and sectors it was therefore ‘developed by the profession for the profession.’ (CIPD) The map includes ten professional areas describing what you need to know and what you need to do to be successful at each level and eight behaviours a HR professional needs to carry out their activities. The map spans across four bands of professional competence and includes the challenges faced when making the transition between bands. It can be viewed as a single set of professional standards for those working in HR at any level. See diagram below: Insights, strategy and solutions

In order to be a HR professional you must have an understanding of the organisation or the company you work for and use this knowledge and insight to develop and adapt strategy and solutions that best meet the needs of the organisation. These insights, strategy and solutions must be evaluated not only in the present tense but also in the context of the relevance to the organisations future. A HR professional must always look to the future and assess how the organisation is evolving perhaps resulting in its needs changing. For example 1.12.2 of the HR Profession Map states that a HR professional must ‘Coach and build capability of managers to handle situations with skill rather than managing the issue for them.’ This essential activity from band 2 of the HR Profession Map upholds the concept of HR Professionalism as it encourages HR standards and expectations to be fed through and developed across the organisation through training and coaching. However senior managers often: Recognise in themselves the temptation to put short-term management priorities ahead of sustaining positive relationships with the workforce. (www.employment-studies.co.uk)

This statement highlights the challenges that can be faced in trying to achieve and maintain HR Professionalism, managers may often get caught up in the job or task at hand, HR professionals need to remind them they are working with people and professional standards need to be upheld. In order to counteract these type of challenges HR Professionals need to know ‘practice and principles for engaging managers and employees in change.’ (1.30.1 HRPM) Organisations must respond to rapidly changing markets, conditions and changes to the law as all these things can affect a business. It is a requirement of a HR Professional, at band 2 level or above, to know how to implement and ensure the workforce are on side and fully aware of any such change in order to uphold and maintain the HR Professionalism expected of the organisation.

Leading HR;
To get the most out of themselves and others across the organisation HR Professionals must lead by example and support, measure and encourage staff to achieve their full potential through professional development as well as constantly developing themselves. The HR Profession map outlines that HR professionals need to ‘apply sound people management practices to build high-performing teams’ (2.4.2 HRPM) This required activity is key to upholding HR Professionalism within any organisation as high-performing teams are critical for productivity, performance and achieving results. Note the word ‘build’, it is unlikely that you will have high performing teams across any organisation at all times as they are complex and hard to sustain.

A HR professional will keep reviewing progress within the team and always consider what they could do differently to maintain and improve standards and expectations. People Management systems such as performance appraisals, quality circles, cascade briefings, 360 degree feedback, and internal communications will help you get the best from your employees. (www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk) Therefore it is vital HR professionals know ‘methods for managing and evaluating team performance.’ (2.21.2 HRPM) Again harking back to the continuous professional development of the organisation, employees and HR professionals themselves.

A behaviour defined in the HR Profession Map that a HR Professional needs to carry out their role is to be ‘curious.’ The CIPD define this as ‘future focused, inquisitive and open-minded; seeks out evolving and innovative ways to add value to the organisation.’ It is essential that any professional keeps up to date with the changing needs of the customer, the organisation and how changes affect the business as a whole. In order to uphold HR Professionalism and the standards expected from you as a professional it is not enough to ensure that HR policies and processes are in place as it is: Not just about implementing the people management strategy but about being informed and qualified to shape that strategy. (www.hrmagazine.co.uk) Therefore is important for any HR Professional to be ‘curious’, they need to ask questions and as defined in band 2 of the HR Profession Map ‘seek or create opportunities to test new ideas or innovations.’ This could be done by looking at and learning from other organisations: Curiosity is about observing and understanding the world beyond our own small sphere. Taking an interest in what makes others successful and reaching for knowledge beyond our own industry area will help. (www.hrmagazine.co.uk)

Skilled influencer
The HR Profession Map states that another behaviour requirement of a HR professional is to be a skilled influencer. The CIPD define this as demonstrating ‘the ability to influence to gain the necessary commitment and support from the diverse stakeholders in pursuit of organisation value.’ As discussed above with reference to being ‘curious’ organisations need to commit and prepare for change and evolving trends therefore is it vital that a HR professional has the ability to gain support and confidence when implementing these changes. Within band 2 it is essential that a HR professional ‘takes steps to understand and consider the diverse opinions of involved parties ahead of a proposal.’ A change would not be successful if it didn’t have commitment from management at all levels, if employees don’t see their manager backing the change they are unlikely to back the change themselves.

Therefore in order to uphold HR Professionalism when implementing any kind of change preparation is key. A HR professional could; Paint a different picture of the current situation and alter employee perceptions, reframing situations so people can look at them in a new way. By reframing the business situation, employees can take a step back, understand the need and/or benefit of the change project, and make a mental shift and get behind the change. (www.cornellhrreview.org) To tie all of the above elements together to be an effective and efficient HR professional you must be a ‘thinking performer’ dedicated to continuous learning and professional development while always looking to the future and focussing on making a substantial corporate contribution and delivering results for their organisation. Concentric circles of HR Professionalism

A HR professional can add value to themselves and their organisation though the four concentric circles of HR Professionalism. The first circle is how to manage yourself, in order to manage yourself you must be aware of your strengths and weaknesses and work on these through continuous professional development. If you cannot manage yourself how can you manage others? It is imperative to the success of a HR professional to identify weaknesses and work to improve them. For example use your appraisal as a working document if it is just completed and forgot about then it is unlikely that the outlined improvements will be made. The second circle involves the management of groups or teams, a HR professional should be able to lead and manage a successful team for reasons of productivity. They must gain credibility and respect within the team by setting standards and expectations and then managing them.

For example a HR professional needs to ensure that team members take accountability and ownership of any goals or given tasks. Michael Armstrong’s book ‘How to Be an Even Better Manager’ sums up this point: Each individual and the team as a whole must know what they have to do and achieve. This is the management of expectations aspect of your role. (Armstrong M 2011, p. 262) The third circle deals with managing upwards, HR professionals need to communicate and build good relationships with those that are senior to them for reasons of sustaining the business. As with the second circle credibility and respect is required to manage upwards. For example there are occasions when those senior members of the organisation may need guidance and advice on how to deal with certain situations beyond their own knowledge or expertise. The fourth circle is managing across the organisation where collaboration is the key.

Any successful HR professional should be instrumental in cross functional teams to ensure everything runs smoothly and as it should throughout the organisation. It is a good idea to have regular cross department meetings to give information, clarity and motivation. Gillian Watson and Kevin Gallagher describe the importance of working together in their book ‘Managing for Results’: The organisation’s philosophy, culture and style start at the top. Management’s belief in team working must therefore be genuine and pervade all levels of the organisation. Teams work best when they are motivated and work in a supportive environment. (Watson, G. and Gallagher, K 2005, p. 132) An effective and efficient HR professional will build successful working relationships across all levels and liaise with all departments across the organisation.

CPD – Continuous Professional Development
Continuous Professional Development allows you to manage your own learning and growth. It is a commitment to continually update your skills and knowledge in order to maintain and develop your professional competency and standards allowing you to achieve and maximise your full potential. In simple terms it is about where you want to be and how you plan to get there. It is important to note that CPD is an ongoing cycle. Self-assessment allows you to highlight gaps and weaknesses therefore giving you a focus on what you have to do to improve professionally.

For my own development I have undertaken a self-assessment against the CIPD Associate Membership Criteria in order to identify development options for my CPD. The CIPD Associate Membership Criteria outlines what is expected of a HR professional, at present in my career I only meet around fifty percent of the criteria, mainly due to the fact my current role is not within HR but simply has HR elements within the job requirements. This has therefore highlighted several areas and options for professional development.

I have a very strong aural learning preference therefore I learn best from lectures, group discussion and talking things through. This learning preference includes talking out loud as well as talking to oneself. Often people with this preference want to sort things out by speaking first, rather than sorting out their ideas and then speaking. With this in mind I am going to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of three development options and their fit with my learning style and relevance to my career aspirations of becoming a HR professional. My first development option is to successfully complete the CIPD Level 5 Intermediate Certificate in Human Resource Management. This self-development activity is a form of off the job training as it is undertaken as part time study at the South West College, Dungannon.

This activity has many advantages, the content is delivered in my preferred learning style, and completion of the course will fill in many of the gaps highlighted in my self-assessment against the CIPD Associate Member Criteria and give me a good foundation to move forward in my career aspiration of becoming a HR professional. Disadvantages of this option include the personal expense and the fact that it is on top of full time work commitments and therefore may be hard to immerse myself in studying. My second development option is to improve my interviewing skills. As part of my role as Store Manager of The Perfume Shop I am responsible for the recruitment of any new members of the team. Although there are guidelines in place I have never had any formal interview training.

To develop my skills in this area would not only benefit the organisation but also myself and future employees as well as contributing to my aspiration of becoming a HR professional. The learning and development department and recruitment department could support me with this option from simple phone calls for advice to any available workshops or training days, both of which are within my preferred aural learning style. A limitation of this option is the cost of any off the job training and the quality can often depend on the abilities of the trainer.

My third development option is to improve my coaching skills. Coaching leads to improved performance, motivation and job satisfaction therefore provides business results. Although it is unlikely that I will have the time or resources within my role to become an expert my intention is to improve not only my skill set but that of my team by adopting a coaching approach. Again I can gain support from the learning and development department. Throughout the period of completing this course I will complete a personal development plan including identified self-development needs and objectives including the achievement of my CIPD qualification. In conclusion any respectable HR professional wants to be better and this begins with a desire to improve and develop, followed by a clear understanding of what this requires. By using the HR Profession Map as a framework and set of standards to work by and having in place a Continuous Professional Development you will undoubtedly uphold HR Professionalism throughout your career as a HR professional.

ARMSTRONG, M. (2011) How to be an even better manager. 8th ed. London: Kognan Page. WATSON, G. and GALLAGHER, K. (2005) Managing for results. 2ND ed. London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Online Resources

Change Management and Organizational Effectiveness for the HR Professional – Cornell HR http://www.cornellhrreview.org/change-management-and-organizational-effectiveness-for-the-hr-professional/


HR Magazine – HR Needs to Harness Curiosity


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