This week at the HRSouthwest Conference in Fort Worth, Texas, HR professionals from around the country gathered to learn best practices when it comes to employee relations, recruitment, benefit administration and payroll. Perhaps most importantly, HR professionals were focused on how to make the Human Resources department a key contributor to realizing organizational strategy. While HR has often been thought of as a cost center that has an indirect impact on organizational success, HR professionals know that the role they play is mission-critical. The key is understanding how to position HR’s activities and clearly communicate results so that the organization sees the clear connection between HR initiatives and business success.
To this point, Dr. Wesley McClendon, GM of Talent and Organizational Development at Fronterra, delivered a workshop on how to ensure that HR is viewed as “strategy essential.” In his view, this requires that HR professionals shift their mind set from, “wanting to help people,” to “wanting to help the business run.” Through his research, Dr. McClendon has found that when there is alignment between HR strategy and business strategy, the result is improved business performance. Moreover, HR initiatives have been found to have a long-term impact on sales when they are aligned with the larger business strategy.
To guide HR professionals in ensuring that their initiatives are strategy essential, Dr. McClendon suggests working through the following questions:
- What is the required change? Clearly articulate the problem or the need.
- What evidence supports the need for change? Be able to point to solid data that indicates that action is required.
- What is the change solution? Clearly define the proposed solution.
- Who will support the change? Identify champions that understand how the solution will impact the business and can help to garner support.
- What is the commercial value of the change to the business? Be able to quantify the outcome of the change in a way that speaks to its return to the business.
These questions provide a thoughtful way to ensure all that we do as HR professionals does indeed support the overarching objectives of the organization and help to communicate to others the imperative nature of our role.