Four new roles human resource practitioners should adopt:

  • Human capital steward. HR has long understood "human capital" to be the collective knowledge, skills and abilities of an organization's workers. But the role of "steward" of these resources is a new one. Unlike raw materials or equipment, The human capital cannot be simply bought and used," the authors write. "Human capital must be contributed by the employee voluntarily," and the role of HR is to create an atmosphere in which employees can contribute their skills, ideas and energy. This is achieved by "facilitating employees without controlling them."

  • Knowledge facilitator. In this role, HR helps the organization acquire and disseminate knowledge and use it to create a competitive advantage. Transforming tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge can help build employee skills, competencies and careers, the Lengnick-Halls write. This transformation comes about when knowledge sharing is valued. "Teaching must become part of everyone's job."

  • Relationship builder. HR must facilitate cross-functional teamwork, the authors write. "HRM must build networks and shared people communities around the strategic objectives of the business to ensure competitiveness," the authors write.

  • Rapid deployment specialist. The global economy moves quickly, requiring HR to anticipate and implement any staffing adjustments that evolving markets and business strategies will require. This will necessitate a versatile, flexible HR architecture.
In Human Resource Management in the Knowledge Economy, the Lengnick-Halls acknowledge that adopting a new approach to HR is a formidable challenge. It requires "a new focus on building strategic capability," they write, "and on managing new roles that expand the methods and process of human resource management."


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