HR Standards initiative for South Africa: Clear principles and objectives drive continuous improvement of HR practice – Dr Michael Robbins

As we are embarking on the process of rolling out South Africa’s first set of HR standards, it is important to realise the principles and objectives of the National HR Standards Initiative. Therefore, all participants in this historic project are reminded of the philosophy and background of the initiative to promote common understanding and focus.  Whilst the implementation of a HR Management System Standard (HRMSS) is about policies, procedures and systems, the people context must not be forgotten. It is therefore important to hold the following principles:

  • Ethical conduct: the foundation of professionalism.
  • Trust, integrity, confidentiality and discretion are essential to HRM.
  • Fair presentation: the obligation to report truthfully and accurately.
  • Due professional care: the application of diligence and judgment in HRM
  • Risk-based approach.

It is therefore essential to read and apply the HRMSS is conjunction with the National HR Competency Model, given the fact that the competency standards in the latter model will support the understanding and implementation of the HRMSS.

Objectives should be established for any HRMSS, to direct the planning and conduct of the management system. In other words, what advantage do we as an organisation want to achieve by implementing an HRMS?

These objectives may relate to:

  • Management priorities,
  • Commercial intentions,
  • Integrated management system requirements,
  • Statutory, regulatory, contractual and legislative requirements,
  • Supplier evaluation,
  • Stakeholder requirements,
  • Risks to the organisation.

These SABPP standards will assist organisations to realise the specific objectives they have set for their own HRMS.  The HR Standards establish the elements of a continuous improvement process to develop, implement and maintain an effective HRMS.  Continual improvement is a set of recurring activities that an organisation carries out in order to enhance its ability to meet requirements. Continual improvements can be achieved by carrying out audits, self-assessments, management reviews, and benchmarking projects. Continual improvements can also be realised by collecting data, analysing information, setting objectives, and implementing corrective and preventive actions.


Dr Michael Robbins from IMOR (UK) is the Chief Facilitator of the National HR Management System Standards Initiative driven by SABPP. Dr Robbins has been involved in standard development projects for the British Standards Institute.  He orientated the 13 local HR Standards Facilitators, and facilitated the standards-writing day on 21 May with more than a hundred HR Directors.  He will also be the key note speaker at the launch of the HR Standards on 20 August and will manage the second phase of the HR Standards writing process (i.e. developing the “how to” standards with clear guidelines for application in the workplace).

To view the full programme of South Africa’s HR Standards Roll-out, visit  To book your seat at the SABPP National HR Standards Roll-out Conference in Krugersdorp on 20-21 August, please contact

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