The HR Profession

‘Today HR is at the centre of business performance. HR professionals have an important role to play in driving decisions that enable their organisations to thrive in both the short and the longer term. Where in the past the function delivered the fundamentals that underpinned the employee lifecycle (such as recruitment, induction and salary administration) supporting organisation performance is now the theme running through HR’s work.’ (CIPD – The HR Profession)

But HR is an area that is in continuous development and growth and so diverse between organisations and sectors. Keeping just one single understanding of what the HR Profession is proves to be a constant challenge, reason why, the CIPD tried to benchmark the HR Profession by Introducing the CIPD’s HR professional map. Using extensive research and collaboration with experts and organisations worldwide, the HR map is benchmarking best case practices of what an HR Professional should know and do and how should they act at every stage of their career within the field. This map should represent the global standard for

For the map to fully describe the HR Profession and what an HR Profession should do, know and act upon, the map has been designed  to cover 10 professional areas (the HR has been divided in), 8 behaviours that support the HR work and 4 bands of professional competence. While the 8 behaviours define how an HR Professional should act and think and support the development and learning under the 10 professional areas, the 4 bands of professional competence grade your experience and map out transition to the top for each area (in the case of being a specialist inside your organisation) or all of them (for generalists).

CIPD, in their latest report on the HR Map they advise the following: ‘Use the standards to help you in your own professional development and plan your career path, or that of your team. Use them to help you prioritise your work in the coming months, or to help pull together your HR strategy. Simply use the professional areas that are relevant to you and your work at this time, at the band that most suits your needs’. (CIPD – v2.4 Oct 2013)

Analysing the 4 bands of professional competence we can understand that these bands represent the stages every HR Professional should take in his career and the contribution or value the HR professional brings to the organisation (as a whole, through teams, processes or individuals). These 4 bands reflect in both competencies/behaviours and professional areas. The bands the contribution the HR Professional should have in each of the following key area:

  1. Relationship with client
  2. Focus on activity
  3. Where time is spent
  4. The service offered to clients
  5. Measurement / results

All professional areas and behaviours are setting the standards in these four bands / levels in order to describe the progression and development.

prof map
Moving towards the professional areas, we can notice that there are 2 core areas that underpin all the HR Map together. They are Insights, Strategy and Solutions and Leading HR and the reason why they are being central is because they are applicable to all HR professionals, regardless of role(specialist, generalist, L&D), location(worldwide) or stage of career(from band 1 to 4), whether inside organisations (internal) or working with them (contactors or consultants).

CIPD describes these professional areas as(CIPD V2.4, Oct-2013):

  1. Insights, strategy and solutions – Develop understanding of the organisation and its context and use these insights to tailor strategy and solutions to meet organisational needs now and in the future.
  2. Leading HR – Act as a role model leader, maximising the contribution that HR, or your specialist function, makes throughout the organisation both through own efforts and through supporting, developing and measuring others across the organisation.
  3. Organisation design – Ensure the organisation is designed to deliver maximum impact (short and long term)
  4. Organisation development – Identify organisational and individual capability requirements and align strategy, people and processes to optimise effectiveness and achieve organisation goals. Design interventions to drive the appropriate culture, behaviours, skills, and performance and provide insight and leadership on change management strategy, planning and implementation.
  5. Resourcing and talent planning – Ensure that the organisation has the right resource, capability and talent to achieve immediate and strategic ambitions now and in the future.
  6. Learning and development – Build individual and organisational capability and knowledge to meet current and strategic requirements, and create a learning culture to embed capability development.
  7. Performance and reward – Help create and maintain a high-achieving organisation culture by delivering programmes that reward and recognise key employee capabilities, skills, behaviours, experience and performance, and ensure that reward systems are market-relevant, fair and cost-effective.
  8. Employee engagement – Work to strengthen the connection that all employees have with their work, colleagues and to their organisation so that employees are more fulfilled by their work and make a greater contribution towards organisational objectives: give particular attention to good leadership and management.
  9. Employee relations – Ensure that the individual and collective relationship between the organisation and its employees are managed appropriately; within a clear framework underpinned by organisation culture, practices, polices and ultimately by relevant law.
  10. Service delivery and information – Ensure customer-focused HR service delivery excellence across the entire employee lifecycle, applying exceptional process and project management to enable effective and cost-efficient HR service delivery; provide the organisation with meaningful analytics to enable business improvement.

You don’t need to be an expert into all these fields as your role could be of specialist or some of these areas might have been given to other positions inside the organisation

The Profession Map Behaviours describe the competencies the HR professionals need to have to carry and perform within an HR related role. To reach the level of professionalism the role requires specific competencies to be proven at each band level throughout the HR path.

The competencies described by the CIPD’s HR Professional Map are (CIPD V2.4, Oct-2013):


This is a very complex system that allows each individual and team to assess both their knowledge, performance and skills in becoming an “HR Professional” but going inside the centre of this Map, the heart of the profession we find the 2 professional areas named here “Insights, strategy and solutions” and “Leading HR”, which makes us wonder how to these 2 areas apply to each individual that works inside HR or contributes to what HR Professionalism is.

These 2 professional areas “underpin the direction of the profession as an applied business discipline with a people and organisation specialism, and describe how great HR professionals work for HR’s purpose – sustainable organisation performance – to be made real by using insights to create HR strategies and deliver solutions that stick, taking people with them and staying agile and innovative” (CIPD p9 V2.4, Oct-2013). These 2 areas, supported by the 8 behaviours allow us to perform as HR Professionals within all professional areas on all 4 bands.

To take an example we will choose two behaviours, such as Curious and Personally Credible and show how these support the knowledge and activities defined by “Insights, strategy and solutions” and “Leading HR”.

For Insights, strategy and solutions, to build the picture of how our organisation is currently functioning on the market, from both business view and HR related view. So we need a high level of Curiosity to analyse internally and externally our organisation, placing the organisation in the bigger picture and match what is going on inside with the market by connecting with other specialists. You use the personally credible behaviour in connecting with others and using analytical tools, experience and management information to understand where your organisation is currently and what are the coming trends, business and HR related.

Reaching this point you need to develop actionable insights so your curiosity and credibility to identify opportunities and risks, collaborate internally to choose appropriate priorities and activities and have a valid opinion inside the organisation related to the risks that are threatening the company.

You use your curiosity and credibility to develop and implement situational HR solutions, by extensive research, always being interested how each process suits each identified risk and how you evaluate the implementation and success of these initiatives. Supported by these 2 behaviours you are able to build capacity and capability. You are creative and seen as credible when you inspire professionalism to other people, regardless the management level they are on. They are supportive of the HR systems and initiatives you are implementing and always opened that with your professionalism and curiosity, you can find the proper way to manage issues, situations and difficult conversations, advise accordingly and support each individual, assess team culture and provide insights and even coach managers on organisational change and culture development.

Being curious means being constantly interested on how the business is working, how each department and individual is contributing to organisational goals, how the business suits the market, how the competition or similar companies are working and functioning, being up to date with all job requirements, including law, HR processes and leadership techniques. Having all this knowledge and being constantly interested in understanding the changes develops your credibility as an expert, a professional in the area, where people rely on you that you understand the business and are capable to implement changes and adjust the course in order to reach and support others in reaching organisational goals.

Compared to this Leading HR should show personal leadership, ability to lead others and leading and solving business related issues. Being curious in this matter and showing credibility means, as an HR Professional you constantly seek feed-back and coaching to develop and grow, identify and act with a business mindset on what genuinely creates value for the business, analyse and communicate the value HR brings to the organisation and support the design and implementation of HR solutions, locally and across business. Managing yourself in this context is very important as and HR professional and an ambassador inside the organisation. Constantly developing yourself, growing and being seen as an important part of the business while you represent HR is an important step in both crossing from one band to another but also growing a culture that understands the value of Human Resource and how it brings value and performance to all the business.

Crossing from individual level to groups and teams, curiosity and credibility are important in getting to know the people you work with. Managing people and helping teams reach performance, means genuinely understanding how each person in the team works, understands the task, the goal and the tools used to work. Being interested in their development and understanding needs to be genuine so it can create credibility in you managing them towards success.

Managing upwards and across means being the support point for fixing HR related issues to all levels of organisation, from supporting managers in implementing best case practices systems, managing organisational change, adjusting and analysing budgets and delivering performance across the organisation. Being creative(curious) and competent(credible) allows you to support the HR function design and service delivery, resource planning and development, delivering value and performance in groups and teams and manage HR related budgets and finances.


  1. CIPD – Professional Map  –
  2. CIPD – The HR Profession –
  3. CIPD – Profession Map – Our Professional Standards V2.4, Oct-2013,

Until the next post,
Ciprian A.

HR & Business Leader Event: Learning, Performance & Talent Management Best Practices


I’ve recently attended the HR & Business Leader Event: Learning, Performance & Talent Management Best Practices organised by Cornerstone on demand in London and besides being exposed to a lot of networking and good food 🙂 I participated to interesting discussions and a presentation on how technology can better support Performance Management, Learning and Goal Setting (including organisational goals) and of course, Talent Management.

The event started with networking and getting to know each other, discussions leading to how performance appraisal and management is being implemented in different organisations we came from. We talked about different competency models and how aligned are these to the current strategy and organisational values, moving towards how are these assessed, developed and of course, how often. As usual, you find out organisations are so diverse and performance appraisal is so different from organisation to organisation, from managing people using excel sheets, to either keeping good, partial, or no records of past performance and analyzing how someone reached performance in the past.

During the presentation we started talking about this big gap between how HR wants a performance appraisal system to work (on paper) and how managers actually end up using this system and we discussed how in some organisations the Performance Appraisal happens like this:

or even like this 🙂

8 reasons to stop managing people with spreadsheets:

1. We never have enough time – either to file in the assessment, track to see if it’s completed, back-up the file or look in previous assessments, we never seem to find the time to work this out for all our employees. Having a spreadsheet based system is time and effort consuming.
2. People need to talk to their manager, not a paper document – keeping people engaged and retaining top talents is showing higher importance than ever, so keeping the human touch during this process is essential. Rather than having your employees complete their assessment by themselves facing a sheet of paper or an excel document, you should involve managers in having the 1-to-1 meeting and discuss all the aspects of performance and competency on the spot while filing in the assessment together. It saves time, keeps people engaged and increases future performance.
3. We cannot and do not take action on our performance management results – the Performance management in action report published by the CIPD a while back shows that only 20% of employees agree or strongly agree that Performance management has a positive impact on individual performance leaving 80% of employees either not being sure or disagreeing with this statement. This only shows that no relevant action is being taken after performance appraisal for 80% of these people.
4.Data is not accessible for Executives – knowing that people are your most important asset inside an organisation, as an executive, can you exactly say who brought the most revenue in the past year, or who are your star talents inside the organisation? Having a spreadsheet only makes things more difficult, executives constantly asking for these reports from HR and HR working days to match the request just by adding up and comparing the data within spreadsheets. Having an IT system that stores and compares performance and contribution can provide you with an easy access to all the needed data.
5. We need scalability to manage growth – Once a company is growing we need a proper system that will keep past record to cross-reference but can also integrate new people, new performance goals and maybe even a new competency model. Using spreadsheets will prevent a smooth HR growth and transition to a system that will be available for the bigger organisation.
6. We need to retain top talents – We first need to identify Top Performers and Top Competent employees in order to take active measures in keeping them engaged and happy at the workplace. You might need to make informed decisions regarding their current pay and what motives them, and even more relevant, what would be the next role they can take over in the future, therefore your system should be able to supply such data for each individual.
7. We need to find the right talent quickly – how do you allocate the talent inside your organisation to supply the demand on new roles and growth? How can you assess from a spreadsheet who would have the capability to deliver performance in a new high skills required role and would actually want to grow in the direction the new role offers?
8. Because employees want to get promoted – managing the talent pipeline will always be challenging on a spreadsheet. How do you validate new entries, how do you cover your exits? How do you insure your organisation grows sustainable for the future?

How do you find a system that will link performance appraisals, from competency assessment to job performance (cross-reference with past evaluations and maybe even 360 degree evaluations) with individual goals and objectives and their contribution to team and organisational goals (direct or indirect) with learning objectives (competency and skill development matched against past usage on these skills to prove the ROI of L&D programs) and with identifying stars (top talents) inside the organisation and of course low contributors to enable HR and managers to take action within retaining and building career paths for these people or finding ways to relocate or get them out of the workplace 🙂