Comments are closed. Is it necessary to have an HR background to be effective at HR? The answer is “no” according to 62 per cent of Personnel Todayreaders who took part in our news barometer survey published in our 15 Mayissue. A total of 242 people took part inthe online poll at www.personneltoday.com151 voted that an HR background is not necessary compared with 91 whobelieve that an HR grounding is essential. We ask HR professionals to expand on their answersNO – AN HR BACKGROUND IS NOT NECESSARY RayBaker, sustainable development controller, B&Q You don’t need a background in HR, but you do need to be able to call onpeople with expertise in issues such as employment law. You do need an inherent desire to have respect for people and to enhancepeople policies throughout the business. Des Pullen, HR director, Allied Bakeries The ability to influence your operational colleagues is not dependent on HRexpertise. It depends on your ability to understand the issues facing thebusiness and to come up with appropriate solutions. CarmelO’Kane, HR manager, Firefly Communications People who bring other experiences to HR are much more prepared to take astep back from the coal face of process and see HR for what it really is – acommercial, strategic discipline that contributes to business advantage byattracting, developing and retaining an organisation’s people. HR has changed. This means that increasingly the skills and attributesneeded to be a success are the skills and attributes that can be gained in anycommercial area. All of this has an impact on training and development for HRprofessionals. The CIPD needs to ensure that industry accreditation is equipping today’snovices with the skills they need for the future. The CIPD qualification should be attracting students that have board-levelaspirations, just like other professional organisations such as the CharteredInstitute of Marketing. SteveJames, HR director, Deloitte & Touche In my experience, the most successful HR leaders have always been those whounderstood both the HR and non-HR dynamics of their businesses, couldcommunicate the issues and solutions effectively and were able to influence andmanage change such that the business could grow. This requires more than just an HR background and, in some cases, perhapsnot even an HR background. With the right team, containing the necessary specialist skills andknowledge, one can certainly be effective without a strong personal HRbackground. Dorothy Leo, director of the Learning Centre for engineering group SKF We look at it in two ways. For our most senior HR jobs, such as HRdirectors for the business divisions and group HR, we believe that anunderstanding of the business and a people focus is equally or more importantthan a conventional HR background, and have had some success appointing seniorline managers to these roles. These positions have much more of a strategicfocus. When it comes to geographical positions, for example, country HR directors,then it is much more important to have an HR background because a lot of thejob role is to do with industrial relations and legal considerations. YES – AN HR BACKGROUND IS ESSENTIAL Andrew Sherwood, HR director, Carphone Warehouse A balance of business experience and CIPD qualifications is good. Iwouldn’t be able to manage my department without staff with CIPDqualifications. They have the specialist knowledge needed. We are running aprogramme to get more people equipped with the CIPD qualification. Alison Hodgson, International graduate programme manager for Internetcompany Worldcom I know of very successful people who have fallen into the profession, butit’s useful to have the CIPD qualification as you need to have an understandingof resourcing, development, relations and rewards. The results of your news barometer are really worrying, but it does notsurprise me. It harms the credibility of HR. PeterDeer, director of personnel, Cambridge University It is hard to have a knowledge of employment issues and legislation,develop people skills and have experience of dealing with managers, employeesand trade union representatives, unless you are exposed to these issues on aregular basis. AmandaRavey, HR director, Whitbread Hotels Employment law can be learnt, but if people come in from other area ofbusiness, they must have certain talents. These talents include being a”people champion”, understanding the importance of the employee tothe business, being able to tell the difference between high- and low-calibreemployees and how to get the best out of them. Madelaine Allen, HR director, Applied Materials People do need a background in HR to be efficient in it. It’s more of aspecialised part of the business now. The CIPD qualification gives peoplegrounding in employment law and strategic planning. But it’s also veryimportant to have wider business experience as you need to look at HR from abusiness perspective. DilysWynn, HR manager, Worcestershire County Council To achieve the range of knowledge and skills to be effective in strategicHR, I believe that an HR background is needed. Senior HR people need to understand motivation and management techniques,which is hard to get elsewhere. I also believe that to be effective in HR youneed to know your business and sector inside out. John Wrighthouse, head of personnel planning and development, NationwideBuilding Society As someone who is responsible for the development of people, I often havediscussions with both HR staff and generalists about the age-old question ofspecialist versus generalist. A straight choice between specialist/generalist is too limiting – too muchis lost about what broader qualities an individual can bring to the HR role, andit is these other qualities that can make or break a successful HR career. The expectations of HR and HR people are changing all the time, and some ofthe most effective HR people I have met have had a very varied background. Theybring a different perspective and drive and contribute in a different way. There is something else, something other than background, that leads toeffectiveness. Here at Nationwide Building Society, we believe that to beeffective in HR depends on the behaviours an individual brings to the role, notsimply if their background is “specialist” or “generalist”.We have developed six “leadership capabilities” that define thecore behaviours that are indicative of success throughout the organisation.They include being imaginative and having the ability to generate and encouragenew thinking and ways of working to take the organisation forward and livingthe values, and the ability to promote the excellence of Nationwide. As an individual who came through the HR specialist route, I spent fouryears out of HR as operations director running a £2bn mortgage subsidiary.Having just returned to an HR role, I can say that I am far more effective nowthan when I left. An effective HR person is more about what the individual does and how theydo it, not what they may or may not know. It’s about the behaviour theydemonstrate. Can anyone do HR?On 30 May 2001 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.