Developing technology skills in HR: a new framework

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What technology skills are needed for HR to succeed in the future? Kate Wadia, Managing Director of Phase3 Consulting, introduces a new competency framework that points HR professionals in the right direction.

I was interviewed this week about our current Phase 3 observations of organisational behaviour of building internal teams to support people technologies. A very clued-up lady sensibly asked me whether I thought these new professionals tended to come from HR or from IT backgrounds. My answer was that therein lies the rub.

A digitally skilled HR department, ready to work with connected businesses, and businesses connected by properly performing HRIS applications, requires support from people who sit somewhere between an HR person and an IT pro. It is not a natural-born complement and these are rare beasts to find for your talent. Yet find them we must.

HR cannot deliver for the future, nor achieve the aspired strategic status without the right skills in technology

That is why I am introducing the HR technology competency set into the training and development planning that you should adopt.

At Phase 3 for some time we’ve been wrestling with the question of balancing the softer-skilled ‘people person’ with the method-oriented and detail focus of an IT specialist mind. Why can we not have both? When it comes to finding talented individuals, who can do well with HR technology, this is a real challenge.

As our own company became something of a hot-house to find, foster and future-proof experts like this, I have turned that focus outwards to notice the same pressure in organisations of all shapes and sizes around the UK.

We were calling the concept of developing talent like this the classic ‘grow your own’. But our need as consultants to grow our own talent in HR systems applies to you too, if you are to be resourced for technology-led futures.

What does the HR technology skills framework look like?

The framework breaks down into practicable, actionable and readily-grasped descriptors and example behaviours that balance between achieving success with systems and keeping a people focus. All with an eye on the business as a unit that actually needs to achieve something.

It is simple, clear and successful. Competencies cover four key areas of focus:

  • Organisation

  • Systems

  • People

  • Method

Underlying these 4 areas is the need to cater for self-management. When these types of skills and the associated behaviours are out of whack, a professional inevitably creates some kind of silo around their potential. For the best success, we all know that silos are best broken down.

What can you do with the HR technology skills framework?

  • Aspiring HRIS professionals can self-assess and monitor their career growth in a focused way

  • HR heads can model the right departmental structures and talent strategies

  • Recruiters can write job descriptions and use the framework to devise selection activity

  • IT professionals can understand the journey towards the HR and people system specialist role

  • HR managers and business partners can conduct team skills assessments and plot out development plans

  • Businesses can engage with partner companies to requisition the right training and development programmes

I now encourage you to work with new understandings of a digitally skilled HR profession and see technology as the enabler of a people-focused business.

About Kate Wadia

Kate Wadia - Phase 3 Consulting

Kate is the Director of Insights at Phase 3 Consulting, independent specialists in people technology in the UK. Her passion at work is for bridging the gap between technology and people at work, translating for HR professionals the language of HR systems and making meaningful their potential. She believes that success with people technology is through people and that people are the differentiator.

Using simple techniques drawn from HR experience, project management, business psychology and analogy with everyday life, Kate presents and explains how to work well with technology and technology projects in an HR leadership role.

With a background in contrasting private and public sector HR management, Kate developed her thinking in seeking for herself to understand her first HR systems project-work. She led Phase 3 as Managing Director before choosing to focus on offering ‘Insights’, through writing and speaking engagements, talent development in HR tech and the continuing development of new industry ideas.

Kate’s guiding principle is that openness offers knowledge-sharing, credibility and trust, best delivered with incorrigible enthusiasm.


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