HR Practices for Competitive Advantage

This study intends to show how HR policies and procedures at Royal Dutch Shell (PLC) contribute strategically to the company's competitive advantage. These practices and procedures include recruitment, selection, learning strategies, and performance management. The effectiveness of an organization's human resources policies can significantly affect its competitive advantage, according to a growing body of research-based evidence (Beardwell & Thompson 2017, p. 12). The core practice parts of performance and talent management are covered in this study, along with an assessment of HR effective excellence and learning methodologies, as well as scholarly works tying HR practices to competitive advantage. Royal Dutch Shell popularly known as Shell is a British–Dutch transnational oil and gas company with its headquarters in the Netherlands and incorporated in the United Kingdom (TUNNICLIFFE 2015, p. 30). The company is equipped with a strategically designed labour force obligated to various functions. It has a sales department, finance department, marketing department, and other departments that operate as a unit to generate higher volumes of sales and revenue. Ekatah et al (2011, p. 49) indicate that Shell’s human resource policies are created in a way that it suits the needs of the organization.

Talent Management

Progressively, firms view the capability to handle talent efficiently as a tactical consideration, and there was a high level of intricacy concerning this exercise in Shell company (Lawler 2010, p. 35). The firm has systems set up that determine high prospective people utilizing clear models of leadership competencies in addition to accepted evaluation devices. The following section discusses a wide range of issues associated with talent management. Recruitment, selection, and succession planning. Beardwell & Thompson (2017, p. 48) state that the effect of good talent management on a firm’s position in the competitive market is seemingly obvious. He asserts that the human factors of the company and talents are the core of the product thus one can measure the influence of an HR policy that emphasizes not only on retaining and recruiting talents but also on developing them for the firm’s competitive performance.


In 2000, the Royal Dutch Shell company came up with Shell People Services (SPS) to offer consultancy services to Shell operations (Ekatah et al 2011). The provided services included retention, development, and global recruitment. Lam and Hawkes (2017 p. 76) reported that conception of SPS was to primarily develop an internal human resource shared-services organization providing both expertise and transactional services to the business. Recruitment techniques in Shell company adhere to talent pool approach in which the organization initially recruits the most effective individuals after which allocates them to positions as an alternative to attempting to recruit particular people for precise roles. Shell company recruit talent through some channels, such as external job publishing and also direct application over the internet (Lam & Hawkes 2017, p. 76). At a time when innovation is immensely beneficial to businesses, the essence of recruiting creative talents for designing the products of tomorrow can be thus measured.

Shell company seek to recognize leadership skill earlier and also have set in place tools that determine high prospective people using leadership competencies as well as authenticated tools of assessment. Potential employees are usually evaluated using several inputs, like 360-degree feedback systems, performance evaluations along with evaluation-centered results. For instance, Shell company carried out an extensive analysis effort to establish the features which differentiate exceptional business leaders within the organization (Wilden, Gudergan & Lings 2010, p. 60). For that reason, eleven leadership competencies distinctive to Shell were determined in addition to the behaviours which exhibit the competencies for all management level including executive managers.

Succession planning

Succession plans can be constructed for entire organizations and their departments, sections and levels. It contains information about roles, the holder of the position, and those who could quickly succeed the job holder in an emergency or the longer term when the job holders retire leaves the organization or moves to another position. Based on Nissan & Eder (2017, p. 80)’s findings, connecting succession planning to the company’s values, vision, and strategy provides a sustainable competitive advantage. To achieve effective results, these should be reflected in the selection criteria and performance requirements for all key roles.

Performance management

The entire performance management spiral extends from setting of targets to assessment to offering incentives and rewards. In compliance with the general change process, self-appraisal equipment, competency models, 360 degrees feedback, as well as adjustable payout, were instituted, all focusing on the employer’s role as well as repressing the conventional conception concerning performance administration (Ekatah et al 2011, p. 249). Savaneviciene & Stankeviciute (2011, p. 413) additionally cite that conversation not only stresses on the assessing predecessor performance management but also determining bull's eye for the subsequent year and the application of management tools using individual training in the organization. Thus, the key to success of Shell company with regards to performance management is the effective utilization of management tools and the integration of several HR practices to achieve the company’s objectives.

Learning strategies

In a business with various cultural practices like Shell, most learning takes place on the job. Kashmanian, Wells & Keenan (2011, p. 107) note how a variety of assignments (start-up business versus turn-around businesses, staff roles versus the role of line managers) add various skills to the syllabus of forthcoming executives. Further, the authors indicate that working for a number of line managers adds to productivity and enhances job rotation. Regarding formalized training programmes such as the fixed curriculum, connected to individual job groups, was left out during the transformation process. Currently, the Shell company training programmes are highly flexible, and the learning techniques are available for all individuals from the senior executives to down further the chain as possible. Such programmes incorporate an enabling environment for the managers to be more of a coach and tutor in their respective fields. A large company like Shell learns through action learning, a model in which individuals from various disciplines work a particular issue as a unit and actual-time training occur throughout enabled meetings (Ekatah et al. 2011, p. 259). As such, the younger staff gets a chance to encounter and resonate with the top managers within the organization.


The HRM practices of a firm can be an essential source of competitive advantage since efficient HRM functions can enhance a businesses’ competitive advantage through establishing product differentiation as well as cost leadership. Based on the findings of this study, it is irrefutable that an organization’s human resource management practices can enable it to gain a competitive advantage. This can be achieved through creating worker-centered outcomes that precipitate firm-centered results, which, in effect, creates competitive advantage.


Beardwell, J. and Thompson, A., 2017. Human resource management, pp. 149-151, Harlow, United Kingdom: Pearson Education.

Ekatah, I., Samy, M., Bampton, R. and Halabi, A., 2011. The relationship between corporate social responsibility and profitability: The case of Royal Dutch Shell Plc. Corporate Reputation Review, 14(4), pp.249-261.

Kashmanian, R.M., Wells, R.P. and Keenan, C., 2011. Corporate environmental sustainability strategy. The Journal of Corporate Citizenship, (44), p.107.

Lam, S., Lam, S., Hawkes, B. and Hawkes, B., 2017. From analytics to action: how Shell digitized recruitment. Strategic HR Review, 16(2), pp.76-80.

Lawler III, E.E., 2010. Talent: Making people your competitive advantage, pp. 35, John Wiley & Sons.

Nissan, J, & Eder, P 2017, 'Four Dimensions of Designing Succession Plans', OD Practitioner, 49, 3, pp. 79-81, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 16 October 2017.

Savaneviciene, A. and Stankeviciute, Z., 2011. The interaction between top management and line managers implementing strategic directions into Praxis. Engineering Economics, 22(4), pp.412-422.

TUNNICLIFFE, H 2015, 'Visions of the Future', TCE: The Chemical Engineer, 894/895, pp. 30-32, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost.

Wilden, R., Gudergan, S. and Lings, I., 2010. Employer branding: strategic implications for staff recruitment. Journal of Marketing Management, 26(1-2), pp.56-73.

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