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Moving HR Strategy From Transactional to Transformative

Feb 28, 2014
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If the primary focus of your HR department is company resources, you’re missing out not only on opportunities to impact the people of your organization, but also the business.

A recent LinkedIn post sparked controversy when the author suggested that HR is no longer needed. When I first read through his sentiments, my thoughts were, “Gosh, this guy has no idea what he’s talking about.” But, as I continued to re-read and consider the main points, I quickly realized he was on to something. If HR is not providing value, you don’t need it. HR loses value when...

1. You’re thinking basic

Transactional is easy to define. It’s moving something from point A to point B. It’s regular. Constant. Process oriented. It’s basic. It supports the day-to-day activities of the people function in your organization. From benefits administration and policy review to parking and metro subsidies, transactional HR is necessary, but there’s more to HR than that.

To reduce time spent on transactional items, you can easily outsource to a vendor or transition to a shared services model. The shared services approach enables your organization to house all of the administrative processes under one roof. It is efficient from a cost and resource perspective. If you’re unfamiliar with this model, check out Kellogg’s transformation. They incorporated this model to streamline HR transactions and in turn, support the people strategy of the organization.

Human resources managers are very much like train conductors. They keep the train running on time and make sure people get where they’re going. If a train breaks down or someone loses a ticket, you scramble to get things righted quickly. In this process, we often refer to ourselves as “babysitters” or “the party planner.” Yes, there is value in transaction. Transaction supports the basics. However, transaction is merely the root system, which makes room for strategy that supports organizational growth.

2. You’re not thinking long-term

You need strategic goals. Everyone talks about being strategic, but what does it mean? Christopher Lee of Cornell University described it this way, “HR strategy complements the organizational strategy through long-term goals that are supported by implementing functional HR steps. By sharing the strategic HR concepts with the organization's leaders, HR enhances its value, making HR a strategic business partner.”

He goes on to provide the following example: “If an organization's goal is to become the industry leader in medical device engineering, the complementary HR strategy is to build an engaged workforce with superior talent in the research and development of cutting-edge medical device design.”

This includes implementing a recruiting strategy and new hire process to find and attract the best candidates that can advance the organization’s goals to become the “industry leader.” Understanding the core competencies and capabilities needed to drive this goal means taking the time to partner with leaders to develop strategy and execute action steps that will lead to goal achievement.

Don’t have the time to engage with leadership? You’re not alone. The common complaint among HR employees is that there is too much administrative work to be done. It clogs the system and keeps them from doing their real job—that of a business partner.

Separate out the transactional and administrative work. Let your specialists handle those tasks and allow your more experienced employees to focus on organizational goals and aligning talent to the long-term mission of the company.

3. You’re thinking organizational mission is the CEO’s job

Do you take your lead from the CEO and wait for the “trickle down” effect to occur? No.

If you are truly an expert that provides credibility in the areas of talent management, you were hired to provide knowledge that can help guide and sustain the organizational mission and goals. True, the CEO imparts the vision, but it’s your job as a leader to work alongside the CEO and executive team, contributing to the strategy that will support that vision.

By removing the transactional pieces of people management, you free up your team to fully support long-term goals and to take action against those goals to help them become reality.

In order for HR to provide value, focus on streamlining your own goals and aligning them with the organization. If that means separating your transactional functions from strategic planning, do it.

Want to read more articles about HR? Look no further. And make sure you read up on all of the latest HR solutions today.

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