As a business function we exist to add value to our organisation and their employees. If you ask any experienced HR professional where they would like to add value, you’ll most likely be told in a more “strategic” space. Ask a CEO the same question and you’ll probably hear much the same answer.
So if the desire is from both sides, what gets in the way?
Putting aside questions of capability to deliver at this level for the moment, the answer lies in the hierarchy of HR needs and HR delivery. Put simply, we try to do too much too soon, without delivering on the basics.
Let’s consider a simple HR hierarchy,
First we need to fulfil the basic reactive, administrative personnel tasks that represent most employees’ experience with the business. The recruitment, the payroll, the benefits administration and grievance, disciplinary and performance management.
Next comes partnering. By this I mean working collaboratively with business leaders to tackle the issues that arise in a broad range of areas on a day to day basis. This isn’t just implementing th administration, but understanding the issues and helping to form solutions.
Once we’ve got this we can use it to inform the development of more proactive organisational interventions that are underpinned by, and drive the design of, the basic, reactive administrative tasks that form the base of our value proposition. In some ways, these first three stages operate as a continuous loop.
This is also the stage where we can start to successfully implement technology solutions to automate the interventions, but based on the organisational understanding that comes through true partnering.
Finally comes strategic delivery. With the three stages below working and constantly informing one another, we can use this feedback loop to help understand our strategic capability.
We can understand the gaps that exist between our future requirements and current capabilities, we have the data and insight that allows us to understand the steady state performance and we can use our knowledge to help connect this to the external opportunity.
Being strategic isn’t a goal in itself, it’s an outcome. If we can build our capability based on this simple model, then we can help more people deliver what we, and our CEOs, most desire.
Not a bad challenge to address as we start the New Year.