HR Competency Model by Dave Ulrich

Dave Ulrich has proposed various HR competency models throughout his career, but one of the most influential models is the HR Competency Model which consists of six main competencies for HR professionals. These competencies are intended to drive business results and contribute to organizational success.

The Dave Ulrich HR Competency Model has gained widespread popularity for several reasons. First and foremost, it provides a comprehensive framework that captures the multifaceted nature of the HR profession. By breaking down the HR function into six distinct competencies, the model enables HR professionals to develop a well-rounded skill set that covers a broad range of areas, from strategic thinking and change management to technological proficiency and data-driven decision-making. This holistic approach ensures that HR practitioners are equipped to handle the diverse challenges they face in today’s complex business environment and drive tangible value for their organizations.

Another reason for the model’s popularity is its emphasis on the strategic role of HR. Historically, HR has often been perceived as a primarily administrative function, focused on managing personnel records, benefits administration, and other transactional tasks. However, the Ulrich model positions HR as a vital strategic partner that contributes directly to the organization’s success by aligning HR practices with business objectives, fostering organizational capabilities, and championing change. This shift in perspective has helped elevate the status of HR within organizations and underscore its importance in achieving long-term business goals.

Finally, the Ulrich HR Competency Model is popular due to its adaptability and relevance in the face of rapid change. The model recognizes that the HR landscape is constantly evolving, driven by factors such as technological advancements, globalization, and changing workforce demographics. By focusing on competencies that emphasize innovation, agility, and data-driven decision-making, the model encourages HR professionals to stay ahead of the curve and continuously update their skills and knowledge to remain effective in an ever-changing world. This forward-looking approach has made the Ulrich model an enduring and influential resource for HR practitioners seeking to excel in their careers and drive organizational success.

Here’s a brief overview of each competency:

  • Credible Activist: An HR professional should be a trusted advisor and respected by the organization. This involves building trust and credibility with stakeholders, demonstrating a strong work ethic, and being proactive in addressing issues and offering solutions.
  • Strategic Positioner: HR professionals should understand the business strategy and align HR practices accordingly. They need to be aware of external factors such as market trends, economic conditions, and customer needs, and use this information to design effective HR programs that support the organization’s goals.
  • Capability Builder: HR professionals must identify and develop the capabilities required for the organization’s success. This includes defining the desired culture, developing talent, fostering leadership, and creating a high-performance work environment.
  • Change Champion: HR professionals should be effective change agents who can help the organization adapt to new circumstances. They need to facilitate and drive change by identifying areas for improvement, developing change initiatives, and guiding the organization through the process.
  • HR Innovator and Integrator: HR professionals should constantly innovate and integrate HR practices to create value for the organization. This involves evaluating current HR practices, identifying areas for improvement, and designing innovative solutions that are relevant, effective, and efficient.
  • Technology and Data Proponent: HR professionals should leverage technology and data to improve HR processes and make informed decisions. They need to understand the potential of HR technology, manage the implementation of HR systems, and use data analytics to drive insights and make better decisions.

These competencies are designed to ensure HR professionals can contribute effectively to the organization’s success and drive meaningful business results.

Credible Activist

As a Credible Activist, an HR professional is expected to be both a reliable source of information and an influential advocate for the organization’s goals and values. This competency encompasses several key elements:

  • Trust and credibility: HR professionals should establish themselves as trustworthy and dependable sources of information and advice. This involves being honest, transparent, and consistent in their actions and communications. Trust is built over time, and it is essential for HR professionals to demonstrate integrity, maintain confidentiality, and exhibit professionalism in all interactions.
  • Communication skills: Effective communication is vital for HR professionals to influence and persuade others, as well as to convey important information. This includes active listening, empathetic understanding, and clear articulation of ideas. Additionally, HR professionals should be able to adapt their communication style to different audiences and situations.
  • Business acumen: HR professionals should have a deep understanding of the organization’s business, its industry, and its customers. This knowledge enables them to make well-informed decisions and provide relevant advice to support the company’s strategic goals. Proactive problem-solving: Credible activists are proactive in identifying and addressing potential issues before they escalate. They should be able to anticipate challenges, propose solutions, and collaborate with stakeholders to implement the necessary changes.
  • Building relationships: HR professionals should be skilled at developing strong relationships with employees, managers, and other stakeholders. This involves being approachable, responsive, and supportive. They should also be able to manage conflict and difficult situations effectively.
  • Advocacy: As activists, HR professionals must champion the organization’s values, culture, and objectives. They should be comfortable promoting and defending HR initiatives and policies, even in the face of resistance or criticism. Being an advocate also means being a voice for employees and ensuring their needs and concerns are addressed.
  • Results orientation: Credible activists should demonstrate a commitment to delivering results and driving positive outcomes for the organization. They need to set clear objectives, measure progress, and hold themselves accountable for achieving their goals.

By developing and embodying these qualities, HR professionals can become Credible Activists, earning the respect and trust of their colleagues and contributing significantly to the organization’s success.

Strategic Positioner

As a Strategic Positioner, an HR professional is expected to understand the organization’s business strategy and align HR practices to support and advance the company’s objectives. This competency involves several essential aspects:

  • Understanding the business strategy: HR professionals should have a deep understanding of the organization’s strategic goals and plans. This includes being familiar with the company’s mission, vision, and competitive advantages, as well as recognizing its challenges and opportunities in the marketplace.
  • External awareness: HR professionals must be attuned to external factors that can impact the organization, such as industry trends, economic conditions, and regulatory changes. By staying informed about the external environment, they can better anticipate and respond to potential threats and opportunities.
  • Aligning HR practices with business objectives: HR professionals should develop and implement HR policies, programs, and initiatives that are aligned with and support the organization’s strategic goals. This involves identifying the critical capabilities, skills, and behaviors required to achieve business success and ensuring that HR practices foster those attributes.
  • Workforce planning: Strategic Positioners should be skilled at workforce planning, which involves analyzing current and future workforce needs, identifying gaps, and developing plans to fill those gaps. This includes succession planning, talent acquisition, and talent development to ensure the organization has the right people in the right roles to achieve its objectives.
  • Cross-functional collaboration: HR professionals must collaborate effectively with other departments and functions within the organization to support strategic goals. This includes partnering with leaders across the company to understand their needs, provide valuable insights, and contribute to the overall success of the organization.
  • Measuring and communicating HR’s impact: Strategic Positioners should be able to demonstrate the value and impact of HR initiatives on the organization’s performance. They should use key performance indicators (KPIs) and other metrics to measure the effectiveness of HR practices and communicate these results to stakeholders.
  • Agility and adaptability: HR professionals should be flexible and adaptable, able to respond quickly and effectively to changes in the business environment or organizational priorities. This may involve revising HR strategies, reallocating resources, or adjusting policies and practices as needed to maintain alignment with the company’s goals.

By developing these skills and focusing on strategic alignment, HR professionals can become effective Strategic Positioners, contributing significantly to the success of their organizations and ensuring that HR plays a vital role in driving business results.

Capability Builder

The Capability Builder competency is a critical aspect of Dave Ulrich’s HR Competency Model. As a Capability Builder, an HR professional is responsible for identifying, developing, and nurturing the organizational capabilities required for success. This competency encompasses several essential elements:

  • Defining organizational capabilities: HR professionals should have a clear understanding of the unique capabilities that differentiate their organization from competitors and drive success. These may include specialized knowledge, unique processes, strong leadership, or a distinctive culture. HR professionals must identify these capabilities and communicate their importance throughout the organization.
  • Developing talent: Capability Builders are responsible for attracting, retaining, and developing the talent needed to support the organization’s strategic goals. This involves designing and implementing talent management programs, such as recruitment, onboarding, performance management, employee development, and succession planning, that ensure a pipeline of skilled individuals is available to fill critical roles.
  • Fostering leadership: HR professionals should focus on identifying and developing current and future leaders who can drive the organization’s strategic objectives. This may involve creating leadership development programs, providing coaching and mentoring, and implementing succession planning processes to ensure a strong leadership pipeline.
  • Building a high-performance culture: HR professionals must work to create a culture that supports high performance, collaboration, and innovation. This involves defining the desired cultural attributes, aligning HR practices with those attributes, and reinforcing the desired behaviors through recognition, reward, and feedback systems.
  • Enhancing employee engagement: Capability Builders should strive to improve employee engagement by creating a work environment where employees feel valued, connected, and empowered to contribute to the organization’s success. This may include implementing employee engagement surveys, developing employee recognition programs, and fostering open communication and feedback channels.
  • Supporting continuous learning: HR professionals should promote a culture of continuous learning and development by providing opportunities for employees to acquire new skills and knowledge. This may involve designing and implementing training programs, offering access to e-learning platforms, and encouraging employees to pursue professional development opportunities.
  • Collaboration and teamwork: Capability Builders should foster collaboration and teamwork within the organization by implementing initiatives that encourage cross-functional cooperation, knowledge sharing, and problem-solving. This may include team-building activities, collaborative workspaces, and technology solutions that facilitate communication and collaboration.
  • Measuring and evaluating results: HR professionals should track and evaluate the effectiveness of capability-building initiatives by setting measurable objectives, monitoring progress, and making data-driven decisions. This information can be used to refine HR programs and demonstrate their impact on the organization’s performance.

By focusing on these aspects, HR professionals can become effective Capability Builders, helping to ensure their organizations have the necessary capabilities, talent, and culture in place to achieve long-term success.

Change Champion

As a Change Champion, an HR professional is responsible for facilitating and driving organizational change, ensuring the company can adapt and thrive in a constantly evolving business environment. This competency involves several key aspects:

  • Understanding the need for change: HR professionals should be adept at identifying areas within the organization that require change, whether due to internal factors (such as process inefficiencies or culture issues) or external factors (such as market trends or technological advancements). They must be able to recognize the signs that change is necessary and articulate the reasons for pursuing it.
  • Developing a change strategy: Change Champions are responsible for creating a clear and actionable strategy for implementing change. This involves defining the desired outcomes, outlining the steps required to achieve those outcomes, and establishing a timeline for implementation.
  • Engaging stakeholders: HR professionals must engage and involve key stakeholders in the change process, from senior leaders to frontline employees. This includes communicating the reasons for change, addressing concerns and objections, and ensuring that all parties understand their roles and responsibilities in the change process.
  • Building change readiness: Change Champions should work to create a culture of change readiness within the organization. This involves fostering resilience, adaptability, and a growth mindset among employees, as well as providing the necessary resources and support to help them navigate the change process.
  • Managing resistance: HR professionals must be prepared to address resistance to change, whether it comes in the form of overt opposition or more subtle forms of pushback. Change Champions should be skilled at managing conflict, addressing concerns, and demonstrating empathy and understanding in the face of resistance.
  • Implementing change: Change Champions are responsible for driving the execution of the change strategy. This includes overseeing the implementation of new processes, systems, or structures, as well as monitoring progress and adjusting the approach as needed to ensure success.
  • Measuring and evaluating change outcomes: HR professionals should track and assess the impact of change initiatives on the organization’s performance. This involves gathering data, analyzing results, and using this information to refine the change strategy and demonstrate the value of the change efforts.
  • Sustaining change: Change Champions should focus on embedding and sustaining the changes within the organization, ensuring that new practices and behaviors become part of the company’s culture and ways of working. This may include ongoing communication, reinforcement, and support to help employees adopt and maintain the desired changes.

By developing these skills and focusing on effective change management, HR professionals can become Change Champions who play a crucial role in helping their organizations adapt, innovate, and succeed in a rapidly changing business landscape.

HR Innovator and Integrator

As an HR Innovator and Integrator, an HR professional is expected to continuously innovate and integrate HR practices to create value for the organization. This competency involves several key aspects:

  • Assessing current HR practices: HR professionals should regularly evaluate their organization’s existing HR policies, programs, and initiatives to identify areas for improvement or potential gaps. This involves understanding current best practices, monitoring HR metrics, and staying informed about new developments in the field.
  • Identifying opportunities for innovation: HR Innovators and Integrators should be proactive in spotting opportunities to introduce new, innovative solutions to address the organization’s HR needs. This may involve researching new technologies, tools, or methodologies, as well as staying up-to-date with emerging trends and best practices in HR and related fields.
  • Designing innovative solutions: HR professionals should be skilled at designing and developing creative, effective, and efficient HR practices that address identified gaps or improvement areas. This may involve collaborating with other departments, leveraging technology, or incorporating insights from external sources.
  • Integrating HR practices: HR Innovators and Integrators must ensure that new HR practices are seamlessly integrated into the organization’s existing processes and systems. This involves aligning the new practices with the organization’s culture, values, and strategic goals, as well as coordinating with other departments to ensure a smooth implementation.
  • Measuring and evaluating impact: HR professionals should track and assess the effectiveness of innovative HR practices by setting measurable objectives, monitoring progress, and making data-driven decisions. This information can be used to refine the practices, demonstrate their impact on the organization’s performance, and support continuous improvement.
  • Promoting a culture of innovation: HR Innovators and Integrators should foster a culture of innovation within the organization by encouraging employees to think creatively, take risks, and embrace new ideas. This may involve implementing recognition and reward systems that celebrate innovation, providing opportunities for employees to learn and grow, and creating an environment that supports experimentation and learning from failure.
  • Continuous improvement: HR professionals should be committed to the ongoing improvement of HR practices, constantly seeking new ways to enhance their effectiveness and efficiency. This involves being open to feedback, learning from successes and failures, and staying informed about emerging trends and best practices in HR and related fields.

By focusing on these aspects, HR professionals can become effective HR Innovators and Integrators, creating value for their organizations by developing and implementing cutting-edge HR practices that drive business results and contribute to the organization’s overall success.

Technology and Data Proponent

As a Technology and Data Proponent, an HR professional is responsible for leveraging technology and data to improve HR processes, inform decision-making, and drive organizational success. This competency involves several key aspects:

  • Understanding HR technology: HR professionals should be knowledgeable about the various HR technologies available, including Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS), Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), Learning Management Systems (LMS), and other tools that can streamline HR processes and improve efficiency.
  • Identifying opportunities for technology adoption: Technology and Data Proponents should proactively identify areas within HR that can benefit from the adoption of technology solutions. This involves evaluating the organization’s current processes and systems, as well as staying informed about emerging trends and innovations in HR technology.
  • Implementing HR technology: HR professionals should play a key role in the selection and implementation of new HR technology solutions. This includes defining requirements, evaluating vendors, managing the implementation process, and ensuring a smooth transition for users.
  • Data-driven decision-making: HR professionals should utilize data and analytics to inform their decision-making and drive better outcomes for the organization. This involves collecting and analyzing HR data, such as employee demographics, performance metrics, and engagement scores, to identify trends, patterns, and areas for improvement.
  • Developing HR analytics capabilities: HR professionals should work to build their organization’s capabilities in HR analytics. This may involve investing in analytics tools and technologies, developing the skills of HR staff, and fostering a data-driven culture within the HR function.
  • Ensuring data privacy and security: HR professionals are responsible for safeguarding sensitive employee data and ensuring compliance with data protection regulations. This involves implementing robust data security measures, regularly monitoring data access and usage, and staying informed about regulatory requirements and best practices in data privacy.
  • Communicating insights and recommendations: Technology and Data Proponents should be skilled at presenting data-driven insights and recommendations to stakeholders in a clear, compelling manner. This includes translating complex data into actionable information, tailoring communication to different audiences, and using visualization tools to enhance understanding.
  • Promoting a culture of data literacy: HR professionals should work to foster a culture of data literacy within the organization, ensuring that employees at all levels understand the importance of data and are equipped to make data-driven decisions. This may involve providing training and resources, creating data champions, and integrating data-driven decision-making into the organization’s processes and systems.

By focusing on these aspects, HR professionals can become effective Technology and Data Proponents, harnessing the power of technology and data to drive organizational success and elevate the strategic impact of the HR function.