The human resources department of a company recruits top talent and keeps current employees satisfied through benefit plans, training and the creation of a pleasant work environment. To achieve this, managers within the department and company must devise a strategy to attract the appropriate type of employee and develop programs to train their current staff. Although HR strategies may be as unique as a fingerprint, they all require executive and managerial support in order to thrive.
"Buy-in is the enthusiastic support, not merely compliance, by those people who are responsible. The best and most elegant strategic and macro-management plans are insufficient. Without buy-in, strategy remains at the passenger terminal and the flight to organizational success is stalled at the end of the runway,” said Ric Willmot, the Strategist for the Executive Wisdom Consulting Group.
KEYS TO AN EFFECTIVE HR STRATEGY
An effective HR strategy has a clear and focused agenda. “It has three simple ideas: 1. What are the choices that the business has made about growth, 2. What are the capabilities we need to deliver on those, and 3. Which of those star points do we need to work on to create those capabilities,” said Greg Kesler, Managing Partner of Competitive Human Resources Strategies, LLC and co-author of the upcoming book Leading Organization Design: How to Make Organization Design Decisions to Drive the Results You Want (Jossey-Bass, 2010) with Amy Kates.
“An HR strategy answers the question: what do we need to do around those star points over the next three to five years.” The specific horizon depends on the industry and nature of the business.
Successful HR strategies keep the company’s goals and objectives in mind. “The key is to put your finger on the two or three growth paths to place investments in and then ask the question: what are the capabilities that this company has to have to execute on that. What are capabilities that we have to have organizationally to accomplish those choices of growth?” said Kesler. The company’s objectives, both short- and long-term, often help hiring managers seek qualified talent for open positions, sets the tone of the workplace and may improve company morale. Keeping the company’s objectives in mind will allow the strategy developers to focus on connecting people with the goals themselves.
“Most companies that are doing this well work with some kind of a framework that says, in order to create those capabilities organizationally there are five sets of strategies, or three or seven,” said Kesler. These strategies can include the business strategy, organizational structure, measurement and rewards systems, and people and talent.
A framework defines the role of individual positions and departments within the organization helps employees identify their role within the company. It also allows employees to the opportunity to see where their responsibilities lie and how they can enhance productivity, efficiency and the quality of the end product or service. This sense of personal responsibility gives the employee a defined purpose within the company and allows departments to focus their energy where they can have the greatest impact. For large or established companies, this may mean a tough analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the business and each department. However, through this analysis, it will be easier to create an organizational framework that moves the company forward.
HAZARDS TO AVOID
Many HR professionals fall prey to common hazards that often impair the success of the strategy. Kesler advises the following: 1. Avoid HR speak: Keep it practical and close to the business, 2. Find the pivot points in talent and organization that will have the most impact on results; don’t treat all jobs and talent as equal – be willing to differentiate, and 3. Measure what you do.
Finally, a company can have a great HR strategy, but it’s worthless if the proper channels and professional staff aren’t in place to put it into action. HR support from the top down is essential to the success of any HR strategy. “Although you will probably need to get the entire organization to buy in to the strategy, failure to get buy-in from the right people, especially the executive suite can cripple your plans for expansion and growth right from the outset,” said Willmot.