New HRCS 8 Competency Model Focuses on Simplifying Complexity

By Dave Ulrich, Mike Ulrich, Erin Wilson Burns, Patrick Wright | April 21, 2021

Key Takeaways:

  • HRCS Round 8 focused in greater detail on understanding the competencies that are critical for strategic business partnering that impacts business results and on the organization capabilities HR helps deliver.
  • Five domains were identified in round eight of the research: Simplifies Complexity, Mobilizes Information, Fosters Collaboration, Advances Human Capability, Accelerates Business. 
  • HR professionals champion diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

For over 34 years the HRCS has empirically defined the competencies of HR professionals and how these competencies impact personal effectiveness and business performance. The HRCS 8 study—hosted by The RBL Group, Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, and 19 regional partners across the globe— surveyed over 27,000 participants rating the competencies and performance of more than 3,500 HR professionals and more than 1,500 organizations. The results simultaneously build upon insights from prior rounds and generate new insights for HR competencies. Below is the new HR competency model.

HR Competency Model- hr strategy model drives hr strategy development


Accelerates Business 

This domain captures the extent to which HR professionals are able to accelerate business results. To add value, HR professionals must generate competitive market insights, have personal capital, have the skills to influence the business, and get the most important things done. Additionally, they must help drive agility throughout the organization. 

  • Generates Competitive Insights

  • Influences the Business

  • Gets the Right Things Done

  • Drives Agility

Advances Human Capability  

This domain captures the extent to which HR professionals can successfully advance human capability in the organization. It includes a focus on working with line leaders to elevate and develop talent and delivering HR solutions that improve both individual talent (human) and organization performance (capability). It also includes a specific focus on championing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace to improve overall organizational performance. 

  • Elevates Talent

  • Delivers HR Solutions

  • Champions Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Simplifies Complexity 

This domain captures the extent to which HR professionals can think critically and objectively about the challenges their organization faces. It reflects the ability to separate signal from noise, think independently, and discover opportunity even during times of uncertainty or crisis. 

  • Thinks Critically

  • Harnesses Uncertainty

Mobilizes Information 

This domain captures the extent to which HR professionals are able to access, analyze, and act on information by using technology to solve problems and influence decisions. It reflects a comfort with data-based decision-making, curiosity about advancing digital technologies, and understanding of social issues that will impact the organization. 

  • Leverages Information and Technology 

  • Guides Social Agenda 

Fosters Collaboration 

This domain captures the extent to which HR professionals successfully foster collaboration of working together. It includes consideration of how open and self-aware they are, how effectively they inspire trust and respect, and how effectively they build relationships that bring people together. 

  • Manages Self

  • Builds Relationships

We are excited to work together to improve the effectiveness of HR professionals across industries and across around the world. If you have questions about what HR professionals should be, know, and do to be effective, or how HR practices can be designed to deliver value, contact us or learn more here.

Dave has published over 30 books on leadership, organization, and human resources. These ideas have shaped how people and organizations deliver value to customers, investors, and communities. He has consulted and done research with over half of the Fortune 200 and worked in over 80 countries.  He has received numerous public recognitions and lifetime awards for his work. 

About the author

Mike Ulrich (PhD) is an Assistant Professor at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University. He is the Co-Director of the Human Resource Competency Study, one of the world's largest studies of HR professionals, involving data from nearly 40,000 people across dozens of countries and hundreds of organizations.

Erin is a principal at The RBL Group with 20 years of experience in leadership development, executive coaching, and organization design and transformation consulting.

About the author

Patrick Wright is Thomas C. Vandiver Bicentennial Chair and founder and faculty director of the Center for Executive Succession in the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina. Professor Wright teaches, conducts research, and consults in the area of how firms use people as a source of competitive advantage.

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