HR has the potential to add value to overall organizational strategy execution like no other department in the organization. Given the breadth of its scope (all employees), HR can, and should, influence departmental performance unlike any other department. There are four very important areas in which HR impacts every department in organization. Department leadership and individual contributors alike depend on, or should depend on, HR for assistance with – Talent Acquisition, Performance Management, Organizational Intelligence and Employee Care. Each of these HR service areas can have a direct impact on a department’s ability to meet its objectives. In this way, HR's potential reach and influence is greater than any other single organizational department.
Having the right people, performing the right duties is key to achieving departmental objectives. Human Resources should always be leading departments through the process of acquiring new talent. Whether it is a new hire or promotion, the process which is undertaken can determine success or failure of the effort. A thorough hiring/promotional process begins with a position analysis which ensures the essential duties of the position are accurate and in line with achieving strategic objectives. From there an accurate Job Description forms the basis of all selection tools developed to find the candidate that has the best qualifications for the position. Screening for KSA's that lead to objective accomplishment and behavioral characteristics that fit the company culture helps ensure a comprehensive fit.
The second way in which HR can assist in strategic execution is through performance management. First, HR can help the manager ensure the goals set during the performance management cycle tie directly to departmental objectives (which should tie directly to overall organizational goals). Next, HR can help managers monitor progress toward these realistic and measurable goals in a way that pushes the employee toward achievement and provides her/him with the tools necessary to accomplish them. Finally, HR can help managers ensure that their employees are evaluated fairly which should lead to the equitable distribution of compensation, if a pay for performance system is in place. By providing managers with the systems and guidance they need to set, monitor and evaluate progress toward strategic objectives, HR can be an invaluable asset in strategic execution.
Human Resources should be the owners of Organizational Intelligence in a company. Ideally, HR should serve as a virtual library of information regarding, not only, the HR systems in place in a company. But, also the keepers of, and the trainers on, a vast number of subjects necessary for organizational learning including: compliance, best practices, organizational practices, statistical data and employee information. All of this information is in place to assist employees and make them more effective at their jobs. The best HR departments take a an active approach to organizational learning. By working with organizational leaders to identify and prioritize those learning needs which impact the achievement of strategic objectives, and providing targeted, specific trainings. Strategic use HR to provide information and training designed to aid in specific strategic objectives is yet another way in which HR can contribute to the execution of organizational objectives.
Another often overlooked way in which HR can contribute to strategy execution is by providing Employee Care. Some of HR is purely transactional. That is, services which are provided as a behind-the-scenes transaction between HR and the employee. Services such as: On-boarding, Payroll and Benefits need to be handled flawlessly. By keeping the Employee Care transactions clean, HR allows employees to think about their work and not whether or not their direct deposit when through. What that means is HR bears the burden of providing all employees with exceptional customer service when it comes to the transactions related to their employment. This might not sound like a big deal but, nothing will distract an employee from their duties or cause dissatisfaction with their job like issues with their pay or their healthcare. By keeping employees happy by being as dependable and consistent as clockwork and providing complete and accurate information regarding the transactions related to employment, HR help keep employees focused on the job at hand.
Keep all of these factors in mind the next time your start discussing or defending the value of HR. Develop metrics to show, not only the breath of the HR department's reach, but the effectiveness of those actions. Satisfactions surveys, training effectiveness scores, retention metrics and employee engagement scores are just a few ways HR can tangibly prove its impact. Combined with a big picture argument of influence on department employees and managers, HR professionals have plenty of ammo to demonstrate the strategic value of a robust and highly involved HR department.
Tremier L. Johnson is the principle HR Consultant for TLJ HR Consulting and Lacuna Partners.