What’s Good (or Great) HR? From the Outside In #AHRINC

Nicholas Barnett CEO of InSync talks real evaluation of what’s proven to work in HR.

The research has only been completed in June (the report is due in the next two months). Nicholas is part of the AHRI Research Advisory Group and is also really active on various boards and with AHRI.

The rapid pace of change as has been an ongoing theme throughout the AHRI National Conference… Nicholas continues the (shocking) discussion around how quickly this is happening. He references Uber (surpassing taxis), airbnb (taking over InterContinental)… these companies weren’t around a few years ago.

So we need to be future focused


Let’s be more outward looking, let’s be more customer centric. We can’t have this session without talking about leadership – this is also absolutely critical to the success of HR.

REAL leadership (relationships, exemplar, ambitious, live an inspiring vision) – this is the model of leadership Nicholas follows (awesome stuff!).

We’ve got to be ambitious to really nurture a high performance culture (this echoes Gary Pert’s great session on high performance teams). Nicholas comes across as incredibly passionate about living with an inspiring vision.

The research surveyed over 800 HR professionals (I’m really glad to be able to say that I took part in this study). The AHRI Model of Excellence is really great (and will become more and more important as accreditation becomes the standard).

‘My Contribution’ (are all 17 attributes) – Dave Ulrich talked about this being one of the most advanced models for HR in the world (awesome work AHRI!).


  • HR/CEO’s and Execs all rated these similarly in importance (and performance). So we’re not greatly out of step with what business is seeing as critical HR skills (phew!).
  • HR are self-aware regarding their performance (similar to where execs rated them) – HR rated themselves as slightly more adept
  • Overall the study found that performance was lower than importance (common in a bi-variant survey)
  • Behaviours were seen as being more important than capabilities in HR (is this true for everyone? Great question from the audience: Nicholas says in his view of leadership it is yes – but all 17 facets are important)

This session is fascinating. I highly recommend anyone reading to get a hold of the AHRI research when it’s released to see the information in more detail.

  • The gaps (something is important and we’re not performing well) according to HR are: credible, future oriented and influencer. Interesting. The gaps are smallest in understanding and care, critical and enquiry thinker and professional.
  • The exec view says that the biggest gap is in culture and change leader, stakeholder, mentor and coach and strategic architect.

Are we changing fast enough? The room doesn’t think their organisations are!

The largest opportunities for improvement:

  • Be future focused, be a culture and a change leader
  • Remember your context is rapidly changing, and is really different organisation to organisation and industry to industry 
  • Gender differences: female execs say that the importance is higher and the performance is lower (it’s not a huge difference, but it is there). This is also true of female HR professionals. Male execs say the opposite.

Above image: Differences in industry perspectives. Does the life/death and competitive nature of these environments justify the increased view of importance over performance for healthcare/social assistance and finance/insurance executives?

Cultural change is tough in big companies – a lot of nods around the room of the data that indicates this (higher view of importance in companies 5000-1000)

So how do we be more future focused and more forward looking? How do we carve out time to make sure we do that in HR.

  • Carnegie’s story of writing down 6 things each day to do each day (just the 6 most important) – he then sent a cheque to the idea’s guy for 25000 pounds as that’s how much he thought the idea was worth. How do we ensure that we do this?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s