It’s that time of year again, when we look at the past year and begin thinking about plans for the next year and perhaps the year after that. It’s this annual planning that has me thinking about a new mantra for HR.
In my workshops I discuss how HR professionals should never mention that piece of furniture that they want to sit at ever again. For me, it brings up memories of a bad era for HR. You know… the era of complaining about not having a “seat” but not really doing anything to deserve that “seat.”
So now, let’s forget about that old way of thinking and move on to HR leading the way and having influence and impact in their organizations. It’s all about how human capital decisions and investments impact bottom line results for our organizations. It’s all about moving from “I think” this will work to “I know” this will work in terms of HR programs.
It’s time for HR to step up or get out of the game!
3 ways HR can strategically influence the business in 2014
Jon Ingham recently wrote that HR needs to ensure it is credible in the current business and then change the business. With this point in mind, here are three ways for HR to flex its leadership, influence and impact muscles in 2014:
1. Get your arms around your HR Data. This tip isn’t really a secret. We’ve been talking about HR metrics and analytics for many years. This data is no longer a nice-to-have but an absolute must if you want to show HR has an impact on the organization.
It’s critically important to get to the metrics that are linked to business outcomes. Those metrics are the metrics that matter most to the C-Suite. Instead of waving your “days-to fill” flag, start tracking “revenue per employee” to show how effective your workforce is in creating value for the organization.
2. Figure out your strategic workforce plan. Organizations will be facing the impact of serious skills gaps in the next few years. The skilled talent shortage will hit some industries worse than others. And yet I continuously hear CEO’s answer the question, “What keeps you up at night?” with “Bench strength and succession planning.”
HR needs to make sure the organization has a plan to address these skills gaps now. This means looking at your workforce data in a much different way than you have in the past. No longer is it good enough to look at voluntary and involuntary turnover. You need to look at movement in and out of the organization.
Looking at promotions, transfers, reassignments along with the usual turnover data gives a much clearer picture of what the organization will be needing in terms of talent.
This is one area where looking at historical data can be beneficial in predicting how many employees will be needed in the next “X” number of years.
3. Influence strategic execution via performance management. The most common reason cited for failure of strategy is execution of that strategy. Strategic execution is a great place for HR to exert its influence and impact skills.
By leveraging a performance management system to cascade goals and objectives down to where it matters (e.g. to customer facing employees), HR can make sure that accountability for strategy is everyone’s concern — not just leadership’s.
Another key issue with strategic execution is communication of the new direction. Senior leaders often take for granted that employees understand the new direction when in reality they don’t. Being able to articulate why the “old” no longer works and why the “new” is better for the organization is a key message that all employees need to hear. HR can influence these messages and make sure they are heard.
Finally, employees need to understand how their role will be impacted. People get nervous when organizational changes are announced. HR can address these concerns by making sure job descriptions align with the new direction so that everyone understands their role in ensuring the future success of the organization.
Pull up your sleeves, HR
I’m not talking about anything new here. This HR mantra for 2014 is about using existing HR tools and programs and making sure they align with what the business needs — instead of being viewed as an HR mandate only. I believe we have work to do as far as our HR brand is concerned. We need to move away from a vernacular of helping, assisting and partnering to one of leading, influencing and impacting.
The HR profession has come a long way over these last few years in terms of demonstrating its strategic value, but there’s more work to be done. I look forward to witnessing in 2014 a profession undergoing a transformation that solidifies its purpose and value. It starts one HR professional at a time. So pull up your sleeves, HR. Let’s get to work.