Human Resources

2 Ways HR Can Strengthen Their Strategic Role

They are a frequently tossed aside group, where many hold negative opinions and aren’t afraid to share them. They’re your human resources department.

how HR can strengthen their strategic roleYou know them as the people who input your name wrong so it shows up incorrectly on every internal portal page, your email address and so forth; requiring you to laboriously send in multiple IT tickets to fix each. (Who would have known I spell my name: LindsEy – it’s just on my application, offer letter, and on every other page of data you have on me).

I must admit, this is a true story and I was one of the scorned; however, I had the opportunity to work with some HR colleagues and didn’t realize the power they possess till then.

Everyone focuses on the business strategy and business results, but few recognize the HR department puts the people in place that deliver these results. They empower the employees and facilitate the placement of much needed roles.

So if your company is struggling to execute your business strategy, instead of looking to the usual suspects of sales and leadership, look down the hall to the HR department.

First you must put the right HR leaders in place that display the top eight essential skills identified by the Society for Human Resources Management:

  • Knowledge of business. This means an understanding of who does what in the organization.
  • Strategic and analytical thinking. I hope your HR team didn’t fall asleep in statistics class. They need to think and act like a business unit in order read and analyze data to execute the best decisions.
  • Leading change. Make sure they walk the talk.
  • Effective communication. Make sure the people understand the talk.
  • Credibility. This goes without saying.
  • Ethical behavior. They are the judges of your business employees actions, make sure their hands aren’t dirty too.
  • Results oriented. It’s just like your sales team, except you’re collecting human capital.
  • Persuasive. They are your culture and strategy evangelists, make sure they can convince a cynic.

Second, after you put the right people on the HR team, you need to change your focus to make sure HR is helping the business. But how?

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Here are a few ways how HR can strengthen their strategic role:

  • Create a people strategy that matches your business strategy. If your end goal is business transformation to be innovative and agile, work with HR to ensure they are looking to hire employees who embody those comptencies. Start with creativity and strategic agility (note: links provide different levels, essentials questions to ask yourself to improve the competency, and good interview questions).
  • There’s a whole world of technology out there. Use it. Here are the top twenty talent management tools available. Invest in one, or a few, and put it to use. You would be shocked at how far just recruiting technology has come. Use it to analyze the data on your employees, their engagement. Then take this data and create a plan around how you can capitalize on strengths and fix the weaknesses.
  • You may find, as many do, weaknesses. Focus HR activities on organization design and development. Don’t think re-org, think “how can I develop what’s already in place?” This means a strong emphasis on employee development. Make sure that every employee strongly displays at least 4 of your top 8 company competencies.
  • Operate as a well-oiled business machine with effective and efficient delivery of HR services. HR must be a leader in change. If they don’t have a good supply chain it will be hard to convince outsiders of their value.

Next time you complain about your HR department, ask yourself, does my HR leadership embody those 8 traits? Do we even have a HR strategy? What about the technology that helps enable the HR department? Is my department a business group? If you answered no, I’d start from the top of this post.

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