A few years ago, an HR department felt they did not have the respect of the senior management team. Their training group had designed and delivered a 10-day general manager program with topics on strategy, finance, marketing, information and operations but nothing on leadership, talent or culture. Nor had they provided training to upskill the HR professionals.

For HR to be fully respected, training professionals need to recognize and include HR-related topics for general managers, and they should invest in modeling the impact of training for HR professionals.

Over 30 years of research, writing and advisory work with HR professionals, four steps have emerged that trainers can take to improve HR professionals, modeling how training can be applied for general managers or other staff professionals.

Step 1: Define competencies required for success.

Trainers need to know what to train based on rigorous research that defines which competencies deliver key results.

Recent research with 22 global partners and 32,000 respondents in 1,400 businesses found nine competencies required for HR success and determined which competencies impacted three key outcomes: personal effectiveness (“credible activist”), stakeholder value (“strategic positioner”) and business results (“paradox navigator”).

2016 HR Competency Model

2016 HR Competency Model

Step 2: Assess HR professionals on these competencies.

Trainers can help participants improve when they have a baseline on how they are doing. People generally judge themselves by their intent, while others judge them by their behavior; therefore, it is important to evaluate both intent and behavior. HR professionals and those who observe them should assess HR competencies. This means doing a 360° assessment to determine how individuals perform in each competence domain.

Step 3: Invest in the development of HR professionals.

Trainers can use a variety of training techniques to help HR professionals improve, including:

  • Personal feedback (based on the 360° assessment) on how the participants demonstrated competencies before and after the training intervention
  • Training modules on the HR effectiveness playbook, including topics such as creating and delivering strategy, creating value from HR, building organizational capabilities, upgrading human capital, managing change and becoming more personally credible; each playbook module can have a key concept (theory and rational), illustrations (case studies), and application (tools)
  • Solutions-based training for personal action plans (what I will do as an individual) and organizational improvements (what we will do as an HR department)
  • Innovative training delivery, including business leaders and customers as presenters, live case studies, team-based attendance, and digital learning

Step 4: Follow up in the application of training.

Training shifts from an event to a professional development experience when there is follow-up to the training event. For HR professionals, this might including personal coaching, re-assessment of the 360° assessment data, learning contracts with work leaders and work teams, and public reporting of improvement goals.

The old adage “physician heal thyself” applies to trainers who can apply their expertise to upskilling HR professionals. Trainers who have applied these four steps to HR professionals model for general managers and others the process of personal improvement through training.