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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

From Transactional to Strategic, A Change in HR Mindset

This is the second post of a series. Please see my previous post here.

If HR is to remain relevant, it has to play some relevant roles in the organization. In order to play relevant roles, HR has to change its mindset.

Here are some observations. Companies are beginning to outsource some of the most traditional of HR tasks like recruitment and training. They are also automating most of HR transactions from timekeeping, records keeping, to benefits administrations. There are now HRIS that enable HR administration transactions with as little paper and human intervention as possible. On several occasions line managers call me for some interventions because they recognize that their own HR can't help them. I am now going full swing on marketing total HR outsourcing so that companies can take advantage of my network of consultants with varying expertise including strategic HR planning that they can avail on a limited engagement. We can do all these while we relieve them of their menial HR tasks so they can concentrate on the business at hand. I dare say that there will always be a market for our brand of service for as long as there are HR managers who refuse to see the signs of the times.

It is in deed sad to note that many HR practitioners are still stuck with the administrative nature of HR work rather than it’s strategic side which the business needs considering the toughening competition in the market place. A lot of us still measure our performance in terms of done/ not done when we should be measuring the impact of our contributions to business results. Let me cite some examples:

Some HR Managers are still stuck with the administrative aspect of recruitment when the real battle is in building the right strategy for defining requirements, strategic sourcing, acquiring reliable screening tools and equipping managers to choose well.

Some HR Managers still cannot respond well to the training needs of the organization because they are boxed-in by costly traditional training approaches that don’t bring in business results. No wonder training is the first to go every time companies have to cut cost. HR Managers who think strategically out of the box will easily solve the dilemma between training needs and training cost.

Here are some more comparison between transactional and Strategic HR Mindsets

  • Timeliness of delivery vs job fit in hiring
  • Use of gut feel vs systematic hiring process
  • training hours Vs skills application as measure of training performance
  • stuck to traditional training methods Vs. use varied training approaches
  • Done/not done Vs Impact as measurement of employee relations activities
  • No career and succession plan Vs. having well thought out one
  • Performance Appraisal Vs. Performance Management
  • Generic Vs. Customized performance management strategies
  • Form-oriented Vs. Goal and discussion oriented performance appraisals.
  • misaligned Vs. aligned and integrated human resource management and development system.
Here are some questions which I believe HR should be able to answer in order to play their strategic partner role well.

  1. How are HR activities aligned with organizational directions and objectives?
  2. How can your recruitment strategy have a positive impact on organizational results?
  3. How do you help employees acquire the necessary skills to do their jobs well and how do you make sure that they are using these skills?
  4. How do you lessen the impact of attrition on business continuity?
  5. How do you help managers manage their team members' performance better?
  6. How can you contribute to employee retention?
  7. How do you leverage technology to make your HR services more efficient and user-friendly?
  8. How can HR help improve the strategic partnership between them and the rest of the organization?

If you notice, all of these are "how" questions and the expectations are all results-oriented. I believe this is the mindset HR must embrace if it is to serve well as a strategic partner to the organization.

The increasing demand of business to align all its investments with results, the advent of technology and availability of outsourcing services requires that HR take a new look at its role, stop resisting the need to change and then change. Question is, are you?

On my next post, I will answer the question "From Transactional to Strategic HR, Where Do We Begin?"


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