Role Of Human Resource Professionals


The changing global visions and new millennium it is the time for human resource professionals to gear themselves and further plan, prioritize, and set new goals accordingly. Human resource value proposition is a framework of five major elements including external realities, stakeholders, human resource practices, human resource resources and human resource professionals (Dave Ulrich, 2005). HR professionals are one of the major elements that include in HR functioning with in the organization. Some organizational commentators call the HR function as the last supporter of bureaucracy. Generally the role of HR professionals is been noticed as systemizing, policing arm of executive management. As a part of this HR professionals served executives plans and since past two decades the role of HR professionals has be transforming itself. Accordingly the role of HR managers needs to change parallel to the needs of the changing organization (Susan M. Heathfield, 2000).

Evolution of HR roles

Management development in the context of organizational needs has changed the views on roles of HR professionals. Effective leadership, formulating strategies and goals to achieve objectives of organization are vital to any organizational management, so for all these effective HR managers play a vital role (CIPD, management development, 2009). The evolution of HR roles started in mid 1990’s and was performing the roles as employee champion, administrative expert, change agent and strategic partner. Later in mid 2000’s the roles and evolution of thinking changed accordingly (Dave Ulrich, 1996). The changing roles included

Employee Advocate (EA) – Focuses on employee-employee relationships as a reciprocal value

Human Capital Developer (HCD) – Focus on building future workforce

Functional expert – Design and deliver HR practices

Strategic partner – Help line managers to reach their goals

Leader – Be credible with both externalities and HR functions.

According to David A. Dye (1999), any organization trends and demands changes and due to which new ways of thinking and operating are necessary and to add value in new organizations HR professionals must act new and demonstrate broader competencies. Apart from which there is a need for better models to help HR professionals to implement HR programs or activities.

Focusing on the evolving trends and impact on HRM certain aspects have been changed in the HR perspectives so as to improve the HR functioning. Some of these are explained as following (David A. Dye, 1999)

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Linking HR strategies to business strategy – Most organizations perform HR strategic planning and develop people strategies which in turn are aligned with strategic objectives.

Automating HR process – HR administration being transferred to customers and users, where in HR staffs spend more time on high value tasks.

Outsourcing HR activities – While outsourcing HR activities smaller HR staffs serve as strategists and consultants to vendors and managers.

Measuring the return on investment in HR activities – Bringing out a balanced measurement system, output and outcome measures and therefore quantifying hard dollar benefits.

Considering the shifting paradigms in the HR roles the following table illustrates the changing trends in HR roles

Synthesis of roles of HR professionals

Value id defined by the receiver more than the giver – Dave Ulrich (2005).

Considering the evolving trends for HR professionals David A. Dye (1999) explained certain aspects that have changed with the changing needs of HRM to improve the HR roles and responsibilities. Some of these are explained as following

Changing needs in organization – Asses the current skills and abilities or capabilities and focus on those which could be developed.

Few staff existing in organizations – Here selection measures shows more impact at the low level.

Rapid organizational changes – Selection focuses on hiring employees so as to ensure compliance of skill sets.

More diverse work force – Measurement includes continuous diversity and bias.

In terms of HR work value translates to mastery of certain roles and competencies. Considering role it defines what work must be done and competencies how work is done (Dave Ulrich, 2005). To add value roles of HR professionals have been synthesized to five different categories.

Employee Advocate

The center piece of HR work relies on caring, listening and responding to employees. As an employee advocate HR professionals need to see the world through the employee’s eyes to listen and understand their concerns and understand them and on the other hand looking through managers eyes and communicating properly with employees to know their requirements so that they could work successfully. It is seen that caring employees will build shareholders value (Dave Ulrich, 2005). Caring to employees includes listening and responding to employee’s needs and resolve complaints before they turn hard to resolve, building better relations through proper communication, giving special attention and creating friendly work environment and organizational practices being or acting as employee advocate.

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Advocacy also includes systematic discussion with employee concerns on different issues and their responses to the changes on the organization, it also includes managing diversity and ensuring mutual respect and make employees to share views and discus son them openly. Employee advocacy also adds value through HR within the stake holders such as investors, customers and line managers. Therefore HR professionals are known as natural advocates of employees (Dave Ulrich, 2005).

Human Capital Developer

HR professionals need to develop or manage human capital by developing the work force by emphasizing individual employees more than organizational processes. Human capital focuses on creating income to organization through and by the people. HR professionals need to focus on the future, and develop plans that help employees to develop future abilities and skills and help employees to learn new skills and techniques to develop organizational and employee performances through career development, trainings, coaching etc. Apart from this as human capital developers HR professionals set up development experiences that employee’s can access (Dave Ulrich, 2005). Focus on attitudes and behavior and motivate them to the desired behavior which therefore creates positive team relationships.

Functional Expert

As a functional expert HR professionals need to operate at multiple levels (Dave Ulrich, 2005).

The first level involves creating solutions to routine problems and issues of HR. Here HR professionals need skills in simplifying complex activities and turn them to choices which could be self monitored.

In second level HR professionals need to create list of choices by drawing the theories and research and best practices followed by other companies. Here HR professionals require skills to turn knowledge of HR domain into a process.

In the third level HR professionals need to adapt their programs with business needs. This level requires skills in diagnosing problems and finding solutions to them.

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At fourth level HR professionals needs to understand the strategies and abilities to adapt a strategic context.

Strategic Partner

Strategic partners need to diagnose organizational problems, distinguish symptoms from causes, set an agenda for future and create plans for achieving goals. Apart from these they help leaders on what to be done and how, help managers in the process of change. Strategic partners also involve in disseminating of learning in the organization therefore generate and generalize ideas in impact (Dave Ulrich, 2005). Therefore as strategic partners HR professionals are responsible in bringing business, change and learning how to create value. Using knowledge on the current and future customers and formulate strategies accordingly by taking the help of line managers.

HR Leader

HR leaders must lead and value their own function before anyone else listens to them (Dave Ulrich, 2005). HR leaders formulate agendas for HR with in the organization for the way HR functions will work or operate. HR leaders need to look up for various HR practices such as hiring, training, performance management and communication with HR functioning. Effective HR leaders set clear goals, communicate inside out, manage change, and identify results and outcomes in terms of value (for investors, customers, managers and employees). They are responsible to help in successful organizational functioning and identify talent and develop capabilities by which they could deliver value. Maintaining and monitoring issues of corporate ethics, HR functions, HR issues and so on. They are considered at the top level of the organizations as they are the roots for organizational outcomes in all means.


Role of HR professionals has been transforming with the changes in the new millennium and with the global trends and the five roles suggested synthesize the diverse thinking in the field of HR therefore representing the evolution of thinking on what an HR professional needs to do to deliver value. Depending upon the organizational needs and changes the role of HR professionals changes as no single professional could perform all the five roles.

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