Competencies for HR Professionals in Knowledge-based Industry with Reference to IT, ITES-BPOs


"High performing HR function affects bottom line nearly 10%"- A survey

Competencies have become integral part of HR field. In the last 25+ years, the competency approach has emerged from being a specialized and narrow application to being a leading method for diagnosing, framing and improving most aspects of Human Resource Management. Changes to business practice have forced HR professionals to adjust their role and the contributions they make as well as to obtain new skills and competencies to meet these demands.

In a survey conducted in USA the following were the observations: (Source Internet)

1) HR professionals from high-performing companies are shifting their focus from internal to external customers.

2) HR professionals are taking greater responsibility for disseminating cultural underpinning throughout their organizations.

3) HR professionals are emerging as strategic partners who identify problems, provide alternative insights and raise the standards "Intellectual rigor", for business decision making

Understanding Competencies

Competencies are those behaviors or sets of behaviors that describe excellence in performance within a particular work context. They can be useful in clarifying work standards and expectations, help focus appraisal and reward systems, and align individuals with the institutional or department mission. We have identified a number of topical areas and competencies we believe to be the building blocks and requisite skills needed to be successful as a human resource professional. While specialists may be highly skilled in a relatively narrow field, generalists, by their very nature must have a broader base from which to operate. They must have a wider perspective on the issues and the workplace environment.

A typical professional career pattern would see the development of the novice into a fully skilled staff practitioner within a career specialty or family of specialties. Through maturity, experience and professional development, individuals would broaden their professional perspective and understanding of the human resources profession. Due to the nature of the range of demands placed upon HR departments, smaller organizational units tend to develop "generalists", while larger departments have the need and resources to develop "specialists".

Basic competencies required for any professional?to excel in any profession

Job Knowledge/Competency: Demonstrates the knowledge and skills necessary to perform the job effectively. Understands the expectations of the job and remains current regarding new developments in areas of responsibility. Performs responsibilities in accordance with job procedures and policies. Acts as a resource person upon whom others rely for assistance.

Quality/Quantity of Work: Completes assignments in a thorough, accurate, and timely manner that achieves expected outcomes. Exhibits concern for the goals and needs of the department and others that depend upon services and work products. Handles multiple responsibilities in an effective manner. Uses work time productively.

Planning/Organization: Establishes clear objectives and organizes duties for self, based on the goals of the department, division, or management center. Identifies resources required to meet goals and objectives. Seeks guidance when goals or priorities are unclear.

Initiative/Commitment: Demonstrates personal responsibility when performing duties. Offers assistance to support the goals and objectives of the department and division. Performs with minimal supervision. Meets work schedule/attendance expectations for the position.

Problem Solving/Creativity: Identifies and analyzes problems. Formulates alternative solutions. Takes or recommends appropriate actions. Follows up to ensure problems are resolved.

Teamwork and Cooperation: Maintains harmonious and effective work relationships with coworkers and constituents. Adapts to changing priorities and demands. Shares information and resources with others to promote positive and collaborative work relationships.

Interpersonal Skills: Deals positively and effectively with coworkers and constituents. Demonstrates respect for all individuals.

Communication (Oral and Written): Effectively conveys information and ideas both orally and in writing. Listens carefully and seeks clarification to ensure understanding.

Basic Competencies for a HR Professional?irrespective of his/her designation

Relationship Focused: approachable; relates easily to diverse groups and individuals; builds and develops relationships.

Customer Focused: focused on all aspects of service and product delivery; always knows the customer comes first.

Organizational Skills: able to set priorities; time and meeting management skills; able to delegate.

Problem Solving: ability to weave through necessary channels to accomplish outcomes in complex settings; understanding of processes and quality improvement.

Assessment of Talent: ability to judge and assess talent, recruit and select staff appropriate to current and future organizational needs; appreciation for and emphasis on developing a diverse workforce.

Integrity: forthright; direct; widely trusted.

Intelligence: ability to grasp complex concepts and determine courses of action.

Energetic: action oriented; hard working; likes challenges.

Active Listening: ability to absorb and translate others' statements into objective responses and actions; ability to give and receive feedback in an appropriate manner.

Composure and Professionalism: ability to maintain professional demeanor in difficult or stressful situations; patience with customers; ability to diffuse anger and deal with difficult customers.

Presentation Skills: ability to present and convey information in a wide variety of settings.

Flexibility: ability to cope effectively with change and uncertainty; ability to reprioritize quickly; ability to maintain a balanced perspective and see all sides of an issue.

Vision: ability to see the 'big picture' within the industry, the organization and the function now, and in the future; ability to translate a future state for others and instill a sense of vision in them; ability to motivate others.

Political Awareness: sensitive to political situations; able to assess political climate and how it affects responsibilities.

Competencies required in knowledge based industry (IT, ITES-BPO, Service Industry)

As per a survey done in US of A, the following competencies are required for a HR Professional in excel in "Knowledge Based Industry"?

1. Understanding the business of the Company. To become key players in the organization, HR Professionals must understand their organizations and the industry in which they work. However, knowing business is not enough. It has been proved in various studies conducted all over the world that HR professionals in high-performing organizations know as much about the business as their counterparts in the low-performing organizations. The difference lies in the usage of that knowledge. The HR professionals of high-performing organizations use their knowledge to make strategic contribution.

2. Personal Credibility. HR professionals must be credible to both their colleagues and the employees they serve and hence they must-

A) Possess a track record of success and have earned trust.

B) Instill confidence in others.

C) Demonstrate integrity.

D) Ask important questions.

E) Frame complex ideas in useful ways.

F) Take appropriate risks

G) Provide candid observations and

H) Offer alternative perspectives on business issues.

3) Knowledge of best practices. The HR professional must

A) Be an effective verbal communicator

B) Work with management to send clear and consistent messages.

C) Be an effective communicator in writing.

D) Facilitate organizational restructuring

E) Design programs that drive change

F) Facilitate design of internal communication processes

G) Attract the appropriate talent to the organization

H) Design compensation System

I) Facilitate dissemination of Customer information.

4) Ability of Manage Change. With regards to Change, the HR professional must

A) Establish trust in relationships with others

B) Be a visionary.

C) Take a proactive role in bringing about change

D) Build supportive relationships with others

E) Encourage others to be creative and

F) Identify problems critical to business success.

5) Ability to manage Culture. The culture of any organization is an important aspect and hence HR professionals must

A) Share knowledge with units/departments/divisions throughout the organization

B) Champion culture transformation

C) Translate the desired culture into specific behaviors

D) Challenge the status quo

E) Identify the culture required to foster the organizations business strategies and

F) Frame the culture in a way that excites employees.

6) Implementation of technology. Technology is increasingly used as a delivery vehicle for HR services. HR professionals need to be able to use HR Technology and web-based channels to deliver services to employees.

7) HR & Delivery. This competency encompasses the HR activities that are traditionally associated with HR function. There are six major factors within this domain- Staffing, development, organizational structure, HR measurement, and legal compliance and performance management.

HR Professionals in India

To start with, let me illustrate one case, it is from one Multi-National, IT company (Sorry, I am not suppose to mention the name of the company). In India they are having offices in two cities?Pune and Hyderabad. They are having manpower of 2,750 (Approx); to manage this manpower they have a HR-Team of 28 people (12 in Recruitment; 9 in HR-Operations and 7 in employee relations). Now, look at these statistics:

Attrition rate in the above-mentioned company is as high as 32 % Every month they pay 300,000 ? 500,000 INR to recruitment vendors. Every month they get 15-20 % salary related queries (Attendance, Leaves etc) HR people in most of the ITES-BPO companies are busy only in recruitment, settling full-and-finals and to some extent database management.

Now look at this, as per a survey done by, Virgin Management Consultants;

A. 77-84 % HR professional don't know the business of company

B. More than 92% HR professionals are novice to economic reforms and economic growth of the country

C. 69-76% HR professionals are even aware of role and expectations of a HR.

D. 86% of HR Professionals are not aware of the business model of their organization

E. As much as 89% HR professionals are not aware of the effect of Financial Bills of their salary.

This is alarming.

Now, also analyze this, traditionally HR meant to be?Recruitment, Training and development, Compensation and Benefits, Performance Management, Payroll, Behavioral Scientists, Human Psychologist, Employee relations (in manufacturing sector we have Industrial Relations Expert, and Welfare officer), Employee related strategies and planning.

In present scenario,

Training and Development is a separate department;

Recruitment and payroll can be outsourced;

Strategies and Planning is a role of senior profile

People are not grown-up enough to understand human-behavior and hence they are not fit to be in employee-relations.

We have very few experts as Compensation and Benefits Analyst and most of the time this activity can be outsourced.

Now, you list out what are the activities that a HR Professional can do?

My take:

It is a well-known fact that most of the HR professionals are not good with numbers, they are not experts in statistics or taxation or economics; they are also not so good in "Human behavior" or "Human Psychology"?but most of them are too good in "internal politics"?making an issue out of nothing.

1) HR professionals as a taxman. A big portion in Direct Tax is "Salary"?components of salary?affect of tax on each component. A HR Professional can analyze this and restructure the "Salary Structure" of the company. This will also help in Compensation and benefits analysis. They can also take-up a role of "internal tax advisor" to employees.

2) HR Professional as a Strategist and a Policy-maker. To perform this activity, they must have good knowledge about business, industry, and best practices in the industry and best global practices.

3) HR Professional as a Coach, mentor and guide. In order to take-up this role, HR professionals must be empathetic, high on emotional quotient, expert in Human Behavior and Human Psychology.

4) HR Professional as a Business and Industry expert. As mentioned above, here also they need to have good knowledge about the business and industry.


These are some of the activities that I feel can change a face of this profession?called "Human Resource Management". The path ahead is difficult to walk-on but it is not challenging. I know there are many HR-Heads and VP-HR, working in ITES-BPO industry or Service industry, drawing a salary as high as 60-75 lakh INR PA, but I doubt, if they can justify their salary with their work. As I have mentioned in the beginning, for HR-Professionals to be a Strategic Partner?Delhi Abhi Door Hai.

Looking forward to your comments and Feedback.


About Author:
Sanjeev Himachali
You can read my ITES-BPO related articles at or

Sanjeev (Himachali) Sharma, is a 29 yrs of age from India, having six years of experience in "Human Resource Development". By qualification, he is Bachelor of Science and Masters in Business Administration. He is also a Motivational and Inspirational writer and speaker.)

About Organization: "07/09 Management Consultants"...(Exploring new areas). We are into following:

1) Business and Industry Research

2) Providing total HR solutions to new start-up companies and as we say JD (Job Description) to OD (Organizational Development)

3) Your salary and taxation (Analyzing the effect of Financial Bill on the salaries and there by advising the management...if they need to change the compensation Plan)

4) Sourcing Senior Profiles...GM's, VP's, CEO's and MD's.

5) We are into "BPO Consultancy" and help companies in setting-up their BPO's in India.

6) We take-up need based HR-Projects in US of A; UK; Germany and other European and Asian Countries.

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