Revised CHRP competencies reflect HR’s evolution

Strategy, metrics added to equation

After an extensive review, the competencies for the Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) have been revised. And while not a dramatic change, it’s exciting, according to Cheryl Newcombe, chair of the Canadian Council of Human Resources Associations (CCHRA) in Toronto.

"The Competency Framework is really a very living document — it changes every time we have a look and see that there are changes in the profession."

For those who aren’t well-versed in HR, this is an important element to help them understand the complexity of the profession, according to Christian Codrington, senior manager of professional practice at the Human Resources Management Association (HRMA) in Vancouver.

"It’s important for any profession to continuously examine the relevance of the basis of their designation."

Leslie Henkel is hopeful the framework will become a means for members to differentiate their value-add in the workplace and open up more opportunities for strategic talent management responsibilities.

"Now an employer can be reassured that when (hiring) a CHRP, they are hiring a true professional with a rigorous number of skills and competencies as well as an ethical commitment to the highest standards," said the board chair at the Human Resources Institute of Alberta (HRIA) in Calgary.

For Alberta, these changes make sense particularly because of the structured framework, she said.

"As we make a bid for self-regulation, this framework provides business leaders, the government and the public with a yardstick against which they can measure HR professionals in Alberta and those who are arriving in our province every day."

The CHRP Competency Framework outlines 44 discipline-specific professional competencies that candidates must demonstrate to be certified.

It was based on the results of an evidence-based process undertaken in a 2013 Professional Practice Analysis (PPA), which surveyed more than 1,000 HR experts and professionals from across the country about their workplace tasks.

It describes the body of knowledge HR professionals are actually using to accomplish their work.

One of the biggest alterations to the Competency Framework is the addition of two new areas of expertise — strategy and HR metrics, reporting and financial management — to the previous seven functional areas of knowledge (professional practice; engagement; workforce planning and talent management; employee and labour relations; total rewards; learning and development; and health, wellness and a safe workplace).

Strategy can include, for example, impacting an organization and HR practices by "bringing to bear a strategic perspective that is informed by economic, societal, technological, political and demographic trends to enhance the value of human resources."

And metrics can involve conducting comprehensive HR audits "by sampling policies, procedures, programs and systems to identify strengths and areas for improvement and to ensure compliance."

"Those were much more defined now in operations in HR and they really needed to stand alone, so we’ve broken those two out and now they will be measured as well, independently — not under one professional practice," said Newcombe.

"That’s an obvious evolution in the profession. As key contributors, HR professionals have a strong understanding of the business metrics they’re using now, as well as the ability to strategize as part of the executive team. You have to have that to be a key player — they’re mandatory skills in the business person."

The addition of the two new functional areas reflects what people are doing already, said Codrington.

"We’re acknowledging what the profession has been evolving towards, plus the increasing pressures on the discipline to be well-adept at showing their value."

The new framework also outlines five enabling competencies needed to complete the professional’s skill set: strategic and systems thinking; professional and ethical practice; critical problem-solving and analytical decision-making; change management and cultural transformation; and communication, conflict resolution and relationship management.

The enabling competencies have always been a key part the human resources framework, said Newcombe.

"We have elaborated on them due to their importance, which is the ability to translate the technical knowledge required of an HR professional into the practice of HR in an effective and efficient manner — in summary, putting the competencies into practice."

The framework specifies the proficiency level at which each competency is to be demonstrated and how it will be assessed, she said.

To certify for the CHRP, people taking the National Knowledge Exam (NKE) in November 2014 will write the same exam while the 2015 exams will reflect the changes made to the competency framework and weight the questions more equitably, said Henkel.

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