In a recent article published on LinkedIn, HR thought-leader Dave Ulrich discussed the importance of HR benchmarking and how vital it is for this aspect of business leadership to reinvent itself to create, deliver, and capture value. 

Dave Ulrich wears many hats in the business world, including that of a university professor, notable author, sought-after speaker, exceptional management coach, and innovative management consultant. In addition, he is a professor of business at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, and co-founded the strategic consultancy The RBL Group. In short, he is an expert when it comes to HR benchmarking. 

Here are five key takeaways from his LinkedIn article on the subject.

Five Important Things To Realize About HR Benchmarking

1. HR Benchmarking Should Be Pivoting Toward Guidance

Benchmarking and best practices are all good and well – it suggests how we can improve our way of doing things by learning from others in the field and measuring our success against specific industry standards. However, it is somewhat reactive. To remain resilient in the face of an ever-changing work landscape, HR should be working with prescriptions instead. 

Instead of focusing on what has been done, forward-thinking HR practitioners should anticipate what should be done and how they should implement strategies to achieve desired results.

2. Turn Focus Inward For Best Results

The idea of observing what leading companies do and applying it to your own business is often considered best practice in the HR field. However, it falls short at times when business conditions are constantly changing. 

To be effective, a benchmark should be tailored to each business’s unique goals, and the focus should be forward instead of backward. After all, when you copy what someone else does, you’ll always be on the back foot, never in the lead. 

3. Guidance Is More Systemic

Focusing on best practices often leads to strategies being evaluated in isolation instead of being a part of a holistic whole. For instance, you may look at what Company XYZ does in terms of leadership training. But you neglect to consider that this forms part of their entire cultural approach, which extends to hiring, performance management, and more. Guidance offers a more systemic approach to workable solutions. 

4. Guidance Strives To Define Desired Outcomes

Leading with guidance instead of focusing on best practices ensures that desired outcomes are clearly defined in terms of:

  • Employee productivity and wellbeing
  • Directional and executive strategy
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Investor results and confidence
  • Community reputation

5. Invest in Human Capital Initiatives That Work for Your Enterprise in Particular

It all boils down to doing what works for your business. The strategies that got amazing results for Company XYZ might not suit your requirements, and shoehorning it will not help you achieve your goals. Get to grips with what you need. Then, address this from the inside out rather than following footsteps that don’t lead in the direction you need to go.


HR benchmarking has to develop with the working world to be effective. By pivoting away from a reactive stance to writing prescriptions, HR practitioners set the scene for fruitful guidance instead of rote comparison and adaptation. Read the full article here.