Auditing the effectiveness of your HR department: part two

4 minute read

In the second of two articles, HR influencer Dave Ulrich and Joe Grochowski, managing director of The RBL Institute, show how to audit the effectiveness of your HR department

Dave Ulrich

Building an effective HR department

How do you know if your organisation needs an HR effectiveness audit? Our research with more than 100,000 respondents and advisory services and many HR leaders enabled us to distill the nine dimensions of an effective HR department and create a matrix that can be used to audit the overall effectiveness of an HR department.

These nine criteria for an HR department may be seen as delivering value at four stages:

  1. Foundational/Administrative: HR focuses on efficiency
  2. Functional: HR focuses on best practices
  3. Strategic: HR focuses on delivering strategy
  4. Outside in: HR focuses on stakeholders outside the organisation

Previously we looked at the first four of the nine domains: reputation, definition of success, strategy and design. In this article we explore the remaining five: organisation capability, analytics, practices, professionals and work style.

To audit your effectiveness, review the domains by the four stages of HR departments and assess where your HR department is today.  Use a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being ‘low’ and 10 being ‘high’, to assess your HR department in each domain and stage.


Building an effective HR department stage five

Building an effective HR department stage six

Building an effective HR department stage seven

Building an effective HR department stage eight

Building an effective HR department stage nine

You won’t be able to do everything well.  So, take the nine domains in total and focus on one or two.  For, you get into trouble when you try to do all things equally!

The nine criteria for an effective HR department build upon and extend, the RBL Group’s empirical research and books in a number of areas, such as our 13 milestones of HR transformation (HR Transformation), the research results from round seven of the HR Competency Study (HRCS), research from Leadership Brand – RBL’s organisation capability audit tool, RBL’s four practices of an HR department, RBL’s work on HR value creation and HR from the Outside In', and HR department questions from the book ‘Victory through Organization’.

The RBL Institute is a think tank for senior HR executives from the world's top companies. For more information please go to
Enjoyed this story?
Sign up for our newsletter here.