In many organizations, HR has to push, shove and crawl their way up to gain a seat at the proverbial executive table. This is, in part, due to the fact that HR is a function that takes more time to show the ROI of its accomplishments. We aren’t the team that will close a $1 million dollar sale and push our quarterly revenue numbers to 15% over our projected revenue goal. We won’t be the people that develop 15 lines of programming code that will increase our product functionality 8x over. We typically won’t be the ones that are quoted in the media for the disruption and change we are bringing to our industry. But I tell you what we will do: Hire incredible people that will make a huge impact on the success of the company. Provide solutions to complex employee relations issues that would otherwise result in high and frequent turnover. Create a performance management system that will allow for continuous and open feedback and lead to higher employee engagement. By creating a strong HR strategy we can provide constant value and return on investment to the overall success of an organization.
Strategy – What does it mean? Let’s take a look at the basic definition and move forward from there:
Strategy: “A plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.” – Google Search
Strategy: “A careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal usually over a long period of time; the skill of or carrying out plans to achieve a goal.” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Sounds pretty simple, right? Create a plan of action for achieving a particular goal… Easier said than done, especially if you work for a rapid growth company that has to shift its goals (frequently the short-term ones) to achieve a more important and larger scale long-term goal. So how do you create an HR strategy in a dynamic organization where adaptability and flexibility are key to survival and success? I’m going to share my secrets on how I approach it.
I recently attended a Strategic HR + Innovation event hosted by HRCI where Dr. Bill Schiemann, founder and CEO of Metrus Group, provided strategic HR leaders with an opportunity to get together and share their experiences on the struggles and successes of creating strategy across their organization. For me, the biggest takeaway from this discussion was how to create synergy around alignment, capabilities and engagement and to integrate these key objectives into our company vision and long term goals.
Alignment – Capabilities – Engagement. These are the keys to building strategy both within HR and across your organization.
1) Alignment: Ensure that your entire organization, from the most entry-level position to your Board of Directors, understand how your brand, goals and customers play a role in your ability to succeed. Improving alignment can be achieved by conveying priorities and strategic direction from the top down, across a lateral plane and from direct reports to their managers. If you understand the priorities, you can create clear individual, departmental and company-wide goals. Creating opportunities to provide constructive and frequent performance feedback enable your people to measure their success in achieving their individual goals that align to company strategic objectives.
2) Capabilities: If your employees don’t have the right competencies, information and resources, you are not setting them up for success. Ask yourself: “Am I hiring the best people to accomplish our strategic objectives? Are our hires a strong cultural fit? Are our managers creating opportunities for teamwork and collaborative thinking? Are we sharing the right type of information with the team? Do we provide the correct resources for our people to get the job done?” If you can’t answer all of these questions with a resounding YES, it’s time to go back to the table and come up with a plan to make sure that your organization is arming its team with the tools they need to win.
3) Engagement: This is typically the most difficult strategic objective to manage because what might create an opportunity for one employee to be highly engaged, may cause another employee to disengage. Your engagement strategy should include transparent communication, treating all employees with respect, visible employee recognition, providing learning and growth opportunities and creating a supportive environment where employees can see that you are committed to helping them achieve personal success. Engagement drives the retention of high performers.
At the end of the workshop, Bill tasked us with creating 1-3 action items for ourselves to improve HR strategy within our organizations. The 3 action items that I committed myself to are: 1) to revamp our performance management system to provide a frequent, transparent and continual opportunities for constructive feedback and coaching; 2: creating a more cohesive on-boarding orientation for new hires and; 3) to design a program to develop and nurture future organizational leaders. Now that I have armed myself with these 3 strategic HR focuses for the year, I am excited to set my plans of action into motion.
What are your strategic HR objectives for 2014?