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Professionalism is defined as a continuous development of outcomes anticipated through appropriate behaviors and conduct that are needed in order to have beneficial business relationships (Gian Fiero, 2008). The principles of professionalism among others commit professionals to have some values such as be customer focused, have proper ethical standards, accountability and reliability, be proactive, responsive and have the willingness to learn and study continuously (CHS, 2012).
Human Resources Management (HRM) is a profession consisting of professionals. All the above characteristics of being a professional are met within the HR function. As Losey stated and justified: HRM is a profession because it is a complete set of knowledge that can be taught and has an ethical code of conduct (Losey).
The HR practitioner has a role and a contribution to offer to the HRM function in order to be an effective and efficient professional. The role - responsibility that is required from the HR professional is to have basically a working environment that people would feel pleased to work and achieve the best possible outcomes through their job performances. The HR professional contribution consequently is the input and the value added to an organization.
In order to be an HR professional someone needs to have an overall understanding of the knowledge, skills and behaviors that are needed to develop a successful career and add value for an organization. The CIPD HR Profession Map (HRPM) is an accurate tool that guides an HR practitioner's learning and development through becoming an effective HR professional. HR professionals can use the map for many reasons such as identifying skills and team capability, building role profiles and identify areas that need development (HRPM, CIPD, 2012).
The HRPM has four bands, ten professional areas and eight behaviors. This powerful tool helps HR practitioners develop themselves from assistants to senior managers; moving from Band one to Band four… The bands are related with the competence and the contribution needed to move from one band to the next. The professional areas are the activities that HR practitioners should know and do for each area of the HR profession through the four bands of professional competence. Along with the professional areas come the links to the behavior needed.
To understand the HRPM two professional areas out of the ten will be discussed along with band one and two. Band one deals with administrative, facts and information technically minded, and band two moves processes, policies and evaluates and gives solutions. The transition between Band one and Band two involves increasing knowledge and skills.
The two professional areas are the performance and reward and the learning and talent development. In the performance and reward professional area band one and two deal with the team aspects; the first band explains the way to work effectively and how to deliver within a team, whereas band two deals with the evaluation and the management of their team performances. In the learning and talent development professional area band one deals with managing training needs, research programs and sources are offered for managers and employees, processing and keeping data from learning and talent development events and keeping records of career and development plans. Band two deals with working with individual employees to understand their learning and training needs, working with learning and talent development management and employees to understand local requirements and propose delivery channels, developing trial and evaluate learning and talent development initiatives for effectiveness and supporting managers and individuals in developing realistic career plans.
Adding value to the agenda of an HR professional is also through the four concentric circles of HR professionalism. The first circle comprises of how to manage yourself through Continuous Professional Development (CPD) in a daily basis. If an HR professional fails to manage himself correctly it would be very hard to try managing other people around him. The second circle involves the management of groups and people through team leading or delegation. An HR professional should be able to lead and manage a group of people except from managing himself. The third circle deals with managing upwards to the higher authorities. In order for an HR professional to managing upward, good communications skills are required to sell ideas and buy in the idea and then reach the implementation stage. Credibility is also required to influence the high authorities and be collaborative. Confidence and being passionate about it as well as having the courage to challenge is also a characteristic that is needed at this point. The fourth circle encompasses the management across the organization. An HR professional should be consistent with managing one function and the other; good communication is essential as well as team meeting for effective management across the organization.
What is also required for an HR professional to be effective and efficient is the thinking performer model. According to the CIPD 2 x 2 matrix, the vertical axis representing effectiveness and the horizontal axis representing efficiency. The matrix has four boxes and is illustrated as the figure below.
In brief, the wish-list dreamer is the employee makes promises but does not make his promises actions; the lifetime liability is the employee who does not perform and neither thinks; the automated bureaucrat is the employee who does only what he is asked to do and nothing more (CIPD, 2007).
In organizations people are valued by their performances, their outputs and contribution. These people have the characteristics of taking initiatives and going one step further, they are known for their willing to go beyond their job description. Thinking performers have these characteristics and most importantly, they are people who do the right thing and do things right and that is the motto of being an effective and efficient professional. Thinking performers might face a conflict between being effective and efficient but they will do the right thing over doing things right, for example they tend to satisfy the customer than sticking on regulations (Johns, Leatherbarrow, 2005). Thinking performers are curious professionals that are aware of the outside world and don't care whether what they do appears in books, what they care of is whether their ideas work. They think big for their organization and their horizons are wide. Their asset is continuous learning. Their goal is to deliver things in a small amount of time with clever ideas and in low cost and all this together while sustaining legal compliance.
The thinking performers are strategic activists with a business understanding, high ethical standards. They have a creative, analytical and critical thinking, they are customer focused and they have good communication and interpersonal skills (Stephens, Pettinger, 2005).
What is also required from a thinking performer is to deliver desired outcomes on a day to day basis, strengthens the obedience role of the personnel within the HR function and finds way to challenge the way things are done to find better, faster and cheaper solutions (through continuous improvement). The HR thinking performer professional should have an open minded attitude towards innovative ideas, apprehend its organization's strategic direction, goals, mission and vision and contribute to the realization of these purposes (Taylor, 2002).
The successful performance of an organization to reach the desired outcomes depends on HR. It is HR personnel's responsibility to recruit the right person at the right position and once recruited there is need to retain it. The people that are recruited from the HR department need to be thinking performer professionals and have all these characteristics and features described above in order for the organization to meet its purposes in the best possible way.
Another asset that HR professional are required to have is the high ethical standard. According to the CIPD Professional Code of Conduct four are the principles that set out obligations on all members: they should maintain professional competence and behavior; be representatives of the profession; should establish, develop and maintain ethical standards such as confidence, trust respect as well as integrity; they should all demonstrate and promote fair standards in their way of treating people who are in their sphere of influence.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) takes ethics into a further step and encourages businesses to consider their impact on the environment within their operating. CSR strategies help organizations to contribute to long-term business values and sustainable performance (CIPD Code of Professional Conduct, 2012).
HR professionals should also take into consideration the customers and satisfying them as well as stakeholders. There are two kinds of customers, the internal and the external customers. The external customers are the users and consumers of the goods and services of an organization and internal customers are the people, departments, managers and/or functions within the organization. Stakeholders are both internal and external customers. They can include customers, employees, clients or colleagues. Stakeholder is anyone that had a stake or a claim to the organization.
The responsibility of an HR professional to deliver consistent and enhanced services to customers and stakeholders helps build a credible and reliable organization to the outside world. Being consistent is very crucial in order to sustain customer relationship and enhancing customers' experiences is a way of commitment to continuous improvement. Also, by having realistic feedback helps identify what need to be improved and needs change.
HR professionals should keep track of what they are learning throughout their experiences at work in general. Continuing Professional Development is a continuous process keeping track of the learning and development. It is a process that can motivate people to control their own development and reach their dreams (Megginson, CIPD, 2007). Through these times of turbulent change the CPD helps professionals monitor their skills, their knowledge and experiences that they have within themselves. The CPD can be seen as a reflection of what and how somebody would like to see him/herself in the future and also it reflects all the characteristics, skills he/she has. According to Sadler Smith, 2000 they found that the three main advantages that CPD is offering to individuals is keeping them up to date that is maintenance, competence that is survival and enhanced mobility (Smith, 2000).
After doing some research and comprehending the use of the CPD, the reason of having an updated CPD record and CPD plan will help keeping me updated with best practices and best course of actions. Even though I am not working in an organization as an HR practitioner yet, I can fill in the CPD with experiences that I have been through till now. The whole concept of it is learning from my experiences keep track of my skills and knowledge as well as behavior in certain fields. Learn information that will get me to achieve my own goals and identify what my learning needs are.
After graduating from College and struggling to be accepted by a university in order to pursue my Master's degree in the field of Human Resources Management, I found myself failing in that. However I am currently doing my Level 5 CIPD Diploma in Human Resource Management. One month already passed from my first workshop and I am pleased to say that this Diploma will be of a big challenge to me. I learnt a lot from my first workshop and thirsty to learn more throughout the program. My goal is to find a job and see myself progress throughout the years to come.
I am a strong worker and a good listener. I have been experiencing team work at College, as I was the representative of my department. I had to organize different kinds of events with the help of my classmates. As far as being a leader is concerned I was getting good feedback from my classmates and I know that I was efficient and effective in my performances. Of course, being in the working environment is something completely different than College and I am sure I am going to face some problems in the beginning.
My weaknesses are many and all of them need improvement. The first weakness that I identify is my lack of confidence when surrounded by unknown people. Although I look after meeting new people and share experiences I hold back in the beginning till I get to know them. Throughout the years I have seen myself open up and become more relaxed with the idea of meeting people. Another weakness is my lack of courage to challenge, unless I am very much sure about what I have to say then I turn into a good persuader. My last weakness to mention is that I have never worked as an HR practitioner in an organization and I lack of HR knowledge and skills.
The actions that I am about to take in order to satisfy these development needs are to attend as many seminars as I can, getting exposed to things and getting to meet new people and diminish my lack of confidence, learn as much as possible through my workshops. Moreover, I am looking forward to find a job and get over my fear from interviews. Find a job in the HR field is my goal and I will stick to that and do the most of it to have what it takes to become an efficient and effective HR professional at some point in the near future.