Introduction Economy and markets, society and values are constantly changing. There has been a shift from industrial economy to knowledge economy which has blurred the lines between concepts and terms. Complex interactions take place under multidirectional influences and to act professionally in such a dynamic environment requires new competencies, mental models and managerial approaches…
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While professionalization of the HR practice has been encouraged through certification programmes such as CIPD, the HR specialists need to add to their attributes to become worthy of the label of being a professional. A model of growth, contribution and enjoyment is what the HR specialists need to focus on. Challenges for the HR specialists Driven by numerous internal and external forces, HR management has expanded its activities from functional and administrative tasks to more strategic functions and aligning its functions and activities with the strategic goals of the organisation. A strategic partner should be able to create a positive impact on the organisation’s performance. The process view of HRM also known as HR system strength or HRS focuses on how the HR function communicates with the employees, not on what it communicates (Rebeiro, Coelho & Gomes, 2011). The HR practitioners are responsible for overall performance in two ways. They shape the skills, attitudes and behaviour of the entire workforce in the organisation which in turn impacts the organisational performance. Again, the HR practitioners can also have a direct impact on performance by creating structural and operational efficiencies which facilitates the organisation to implement strategies consistent with their goals. This approach requires a strategic fit between the HR practices and the organisational strategy for enhanced performance. HRS has a direct impact on improving behaviour. When messages are communicated to the employees in a clear, consistent and distinct way horizontal fit has been achieved. Organisational culture also impacts the outcome of HR practices. Thus, HR practices and their outcome cannot be considered in isolation because several factors contribute towards its success or failure. Realizing the challenges posed by the changed business environment, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) reframed its professional standards and introduced the concept of the “thinking performer” (Higgins & Zhang, 2009). The “thinking performer” is an ideal HR practitioner that adds value to their organisation as they are capable of and constantly willing to challenge the way things are executed. The “thinking performer” is a “strategic activist” who has the capability to challenge the status quo and demand more from what is currently being delivered by the people in the organisation. CIPD has been attempting to upgrade the personnel management towards strategic issues. This has become essential in light of the fact that most HR practitioners do not engage in strategic issues or challenge how things are being done. However, this too has to be handled in a way that other employees do not feel estranged if the entire focus is shifted towards strategic issues. This is perhaps what Pook (2001) means when he contends that HR development and organisational development are intertwined. People make an organisation and their knowledge and capabilities are a resource that has to be used for achieving strategically defined results. Much of the business generating activity also depends upon employee loyalty and identification with the organisation. In other words people are both drivers and inhibitors of change and development. Therefore attracting and retaining the right
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