5 tips for leveraging the APS HR Pathways for Professionalisation Framework for your agency
The new APS HR Workforce Strategy and Pathways to Professionalisation launched last month as a high-level overarching framework to guide the HR Profession. Some agencies will decide to leverage this to develop their own detailed capability frameworks, delving into the detail and specific roles within their own work environments.
Should you decide to go down this path, we’ve created this handy list of tips based on a conversation with Irene Hadjion and Amy Marshall, from the Organisational Development team at Services Australia. They developed their own model and have some valuable insights on where to start and how to ensure you have the right people on board.
1. Know what you want to address
Amy: We wanted to develop a framework specific to our agency that could be used to identify HR capability needs and prioritise learning to build the capability of our HR professionals
Irene: Our strategy was really geared at helping us rethink how we’re investing our money and upskilling our staff in a way that benefits the whole HR division. We often have people within the HR stream who don’t have HR qualifications, so we bring someone in to run specialised training, which can be expensive. Without a clear understanding of what to invest in across the whole of HR, you may find specialised parts of the division investing in learning and development while neglecting higher priority development needs across the wider division. A well-developed framework would allow us to do assessments in a more holistic way and get a bigger bang for our buck by focusing on capabilities that everybody in HR needs.
We also wanted to improve the end-to-end process for our HR workforce and give staff an understanding of how they can progress their careers within HR or align to jobs in other areas of the organisation. We want people to be able to map out their professional HR career. We’re currently exploring different technologies to enable this, but we want staff to be able to do an assessment of their current capability level, compare that to where they want to be and build a learning and development pathway between the two. Stuff like that means something to people – they walk away with a clear understanding of what they actually need to do.
2. Do your research
Irene: When developing a framework, it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking, ‘We can just ask people what their skillsets are and put it in a document!’ But it’s a lot more involved than that – you’re mapping our behaviours and skillsets, the moving on to find the right learning tools and exploring how to build assessments to guide that learning. You need to put the time in at the beginning to get it right. The research our team did was really beneficial and helped us to push things out more quickly down the line. Of course, we now have the APS HR Workforce Strategy and particularly the Pathways to Professionalisation Framework, which is hugely helpful for anyone wanting to embark down this road.
Amy: We started by looking at what other agencies were doing, and it was interesting to see how they had taken the AHRI Model of Excellence – which is a graphic representation of HR capabilities and behaviours – and personalised those traditional capabilities for their agency. And don’t forget the APS HR Workforce Strategy! We didn’t have that when we did our framework, but I have to say that, if we were to do this again, we would use that as the base on which to build.
Our final product may look straightforward, but there’s a lot of analysis and negotiation behind it. Remind those you consult with, that this is about the commonalities between us, because that is what is of higher importance. Be really clear in the beginning about the intent, the target audience and who needs to contribute, otherwise you will end up with 200 people adding feedback. Throughout the process bring people back to that intent – keeping it generic so it’s relevant to all of HR. If you can do that, you’ll end up with a holistic, greater-good model.
3. Tailor it to your agency
Amy: Through our research and analysis, we could see that it was important to translate the model in a way that made sense for our HR staff. ‘Think strategically’ means a different thing at each organisation, so you have to tailor the language. The more you personalise it and make it really speak to the people that are going to use it, the more likely it is you will achieve the change you’re trying to make. We wanted to align with AHRI and the APSC but make our framework specific to us and capture what sits in HR within our agency. As our HR group is large and multifaceted, with roles that might not fit traditionally in HR, we needed our framework to say, ‘this is what unifies us, and this is what HR looks like here’. Take the time to really make the framework yours – there’s no point in everyone building the same kind of template, so write the story of how this translates to your space.
Irene: Look at where things align to Pathways to Professionalisation and how you can apply this in your environment. The APS HR Workforce Strategy and its pillars are reflected in our framework, although our focus is slightly different. Right now, we’re at the upskilling stage; the next step will be professionalising. Our framework was developed to help us understand where we’re heading and who we need to upskill to get there. We’re approaching this in tiers; eventually we’ll be doing assessments at both a micro and a macro level. Our broader agency capability framework covers what we need to get right first – for example, everybody in the agency should possess capabilities like emotional intelligence and strategic intelligence. On the next tier down, we’re looking to identify where we need to build capability within the wider HR group. As an individual at Services Australia, you’d need to do both those tiers first, and then a final tier that relates to the particular job you’re doing.
4. Get backing from the top
Irene: Think about how you can get support from your SES to push in the direction you want to take. Having our General Manager’s backing was very beneficial; leveraging off his other communication activities and tying this story together with other things going on in HR was a big advantage. We were able to link our work back into the agency capability framework to show people how it layered together. We also have a lot of functional realignment taking place, so our roles in HR are in focus – we were able to create linkages there and let the wider agency know that while realignment takes place.
Amy: This is where the analysis phase can be really advantageous. A lot of HR leaders are AHRI purists and will be inclined to stick closely with the AHRI model. By getting yourself across the different models and frameworks available, you can leverage off your research to demonstrate where it’s okay to change things to better fit your purpose and how it has worked in other agencies.
5. Think about the next steps
Irene: When writing your capability framework, start thinking about how you will implement it as well. It’s not just about building it but being ready to drive it as soon as it’s signed off. It’s an ongoing job, a living document that needs to be fed. We often try to rush so we can get things back to people quickly, but the message is better received if you give yourself time to develop the next steps. Consider what happens next, so it has momentum and people can see how it will benefit them. It’s much more useful to release a framework and have an assessment model ready to go so that you can start prioritising learning needs straight away.
If it’s done well, it will have an immediate, positive impact. You can start using it in your recruitment processes, to map your workforce planning principles and design learning in an efficient way. It’s not something that just happens, you’ve got to invest in it to get the benefit out of it. When people start up a podcast, they recommended that you have 3 or 4 episodes ready to go to hook people in – it’s the same with a framework. You want to be able to say, ‘here it is and here’s how you use it.’ Think about the end-user experience and what will get them to embrace that change.
If you’d like to get in touch with Irene or Amy, you can reach them at Irene.Hadjion@servicesaustralia.gov.au and Amy.Marshall@servicesaustralia.gov.au; or Carole Rowe from the APS HR Professional Stream at Carole.Rowe@ato.gov.au