Should HR be a strategic partner for an organization’s survival?

We have a big disconnect today across the Talent Value Chain available and an Extremely Dynamic Business Landscape. An organization’s strategic goals along with a well-definedorganizational structure are the starting point of the talent value chain. Like business strategy, talent strategy addresses the key challenges a company is facing and hence, necessitates a careful examination of business challenges and objectives. As we are ushering into this Idea Based Economy (Resource Based Economy — Service Based Economy — IP based Economy), the speed at which the business and the market at large are changing is unprecedented. It calls for a different kind of leadership, different ways of engaging with employees, real time & responsive relationship between academia and Corporates, and people who have the DNA of a student across the various echelons of corporates.

There is no alignment between HR strategy and leadership direction owing to which right from workforce planning to talent management to retention is not well aligned to business goals. For example, User Interface has become very important for any IT company, but HR may still be looking at traditional recruitment process of hiring people from engineering colleges. Rather the recruitment team can look in for niche talent from reputed institutes like National Institute of Design. Similarly some of the reputed colleges in Singapore have got special courses like Industrial Design. Another example is that of DevOps which is the new buzz word among the innovative minds but Learning and Development Department of the organization may not be prepared for imparting courses in those areas. Things change at such a rapid pace that business plans done at the beginning of the year goes for a toss and one has to be constantly in sync with the Leadership Direction. In this situation neither the HR department is able to recruit as per the business needs nor are they able to maintain a robust talent management system! The double whammy is raising serious questions about ‘How do we solve this conundrum?’

  1. One could be giving HR a seat in the board so that they are aware of Corporate Direction frequently. This will allow them to sync their speed of change with Business and eliminate one big disconnect. Not only this, HR would represent the employees and thus prove their contribution to the Business strategy.
  2. Rotation — Bringing Line Managers into HR and HR into Line Business. It allows cross pollination of ideas and better understanding of pains of different teams and to come up with solutions, which are practical and implementable. It is always said Line Managers play an important role in developing their employees equally as the HR.
  3. Listening & Thinking Skills of HR person has to be enhanced and hence real good talent has to be inducted into HR too. Thinking out of the box should be incorporated into the culture and rewarded too. This can be very well ensured by bringing in people of the same cadre that we get into line and business functions. For example, if we get MBA graduates from reputed colleges into sales or consultant roles, graduates of the same cadre should also be got into HR function. This way the communication and understanding between the teams would be easier.
  4. Line Functions taking HR Partners seriously and make them part of their business meetings and plans so that HR Partners really appreciate the business and work as a core team of Business.
  5. In Idea based economy it is not one person who can drive business. Innovation should take place in every part of the company hence channelization of ideas and scanning of the same with real seriousness is extremely important. We can enable this by breaking the hierarchy of the corporates and free flow if idea’s.
  6. Revive the student-ism across the company. Book Reviews of relevant topics by each and every member of the team can be one source of imbibing new knowledge and dissemination for team’s at large. Providing Access to various learning channels (Pluralsight/ GoSkills et al) and linking of certifications with new responsibilities can be another solution. Knowledge transfer across the organization has become a must.
  7. Tracking and Rewarding of Red Apples. New Age Performance Managements Systems allows an employee to store one’s achievement throughout the year and also Managers can leave their observation at any point of time. This will allow reviewing the performance in a holistic manner and rewarding them.
  8. Being in tune with Gen Y and designing programs and rewards to suit their expectation. Life around work is one change which is taking place and enabling and enhancing life skills of employees are equally important.
  9. Technology has now become an integral part of any business function, so HR also cannot escape. It’s time for HR department to also become tech savvy and engage in employee branding!

Though we may say that HR is really struggling to keep pace with changing talent needs of corporates but essentially the complete value chain is important for success of any business. Rather than singling out HR, it would be prudent to bring them on board on this journey of Business Transformation, which will only gather pace in the coming years. Nevertheless Fortune 500 companies have realized the importance and have already aligned their HR vertical with their Business Goals. When is your turn?

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