HR skills: being a role model

HR skills: being a role model

HR skills: being a role model

The difficulty with being a member of the organisational ‘police force’ (and as a member of HR, that’s how many colleagues view you, like it or not) is that you have to practice what you preach. Or more accurately, you have to practice – and demonstrate – what the HR and other organisational policies preach. It’s hard to be perfect, no?

Still, although ‘perfection’ might be an exaggeration, anybody in a HR role does work under an expectation that they lead by example. In other words, like it or not, you’re a role model.

The HR Perspective

According to the CIPD’s professional standards, the core requirement of your role modelling responsibility is, ‘…Consistently leads by example. Acts with integrity, impartiality and independence, balancing personal, organisation and legal parameters.’

Well, fair enough. We’d like to think that everybody in any organisation would do likewise – keep the personal stuff out of it and just do what’s right. Seems reasonable. However, what does that mean in practice, exactly?

The essential role modelling skills

Again, drawing on the CIPD competence framework, the ‘art of role modelling’ crops up in a number of key statements from the fairly undemanding:

‘Role model the change-ready employee by remaining flexible, positive and open to change.’

…to the more high-powered and aspirational:

‘Foster a culture of service excellence – role- model this as a customer champion and coach teams to deliver customer care.’

Put simply, in every area of organisational function and management, people will (and do) expect HR to show good practice. And this expectation is – on one level – perfectly reasonable. After all, HR is the custodian of the people policies (including the competence framework and performance management system, or equivalent) and it’s natural that the ‘custodian’ lead the way… e.g.

‘Role-model effective performance management and the creation of a performance culture within the HR team by investing time in setting context, establishing a clear strategy and …providing regular, timely feedback and by rewarding performance according to delivery.’


‘Acts as a role model for continuous learning, focusing own and others’ efforts on building professional and organisational knowledge.’

Of course, this may not always feel fair, especially if we are held to account for a lapse, but like it or not, other people’s expectations are part and parcel of working in an organisational support service. Colleagues in Finance are expected to be good with money, IT staff should all be technology fiends, and HR people should all demonstrate impeccable workplace behaviour.

Harsh but fair. What do you think?

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Categories: Development, HR

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