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The march of progress at AHRI’s National Convention


What do an elephant and HR have in common? If you ask Dave Ulrich, business professor, partner at RBL Group and HR heavyweight, a hungry pachyderm and most businesses have the same problem: they only focus on the grass in front of them. But as change becomes a factor in who thrives and who doesn’t, HR needs to be the elephant that thinks not just about the grass around them, but what they need to cultivate for the future.

Ulrich kicked off the conference’s second day of sessions, keynote addresses and exhibition presentations with aspirational messages about what HR can do and should be doing in the future for itself and organisations. No department is more primed to influence change around workplace culture than HR, he says, and while opinions differ about the function of HR in organisations he urged practitioners to think in terms of relationships rather than roles.

“HR is about the value we create for the business,” he said. “Every business in the world goes through change, but we control the rights and opportunities for companies to succeed.”

His tips for good HR organisation and standards included creating and sharing a common purpose, respecting differences and sharing experiences. He repeatedly referenced AHRI’s own five foundational pillars as an example of how the profession is already making efforts to increase the profile of HR in organisations.

This message hits home for many attendees as AHRI begins its push for certification of HR practitioners. The transformation of HR from a job into a profession is the topic of the moment, and many sessions and workshops touch on the HR fundamentals most affected. Ulrich is only one voice engaging in the conversation about what HR can do and where it is headed. 

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