Outside input is needed to make HR strategic

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Outside input is needed to make HR strategicOn 28 Jan 2003 in Personnel Today In the HR function’s bid to be a strategic, boardroom player – and disposeof its label as the ‘tea, toast and toilet paper provider’ – it invented therole of the HR business partner. But do these beasts really exist? Without a doubt, HR’s life through the ages has focused on the more mundaneactivities of company life. Organising the Christmas party and handling querieson holiday entitlement, maternity and paternity leave, employee change notes,employee relations, recruitment, training and development and the like,dominate the agenda. These activities are hardly of strategic importance orvital to a business, but nevertheless, somebody has to do it. Here’s where the HR business partner fits in. HR departments have tried tobundle many of these non-core activities into HR shared services. Assuming thatHR has got its act together with HR shared services through outsourcing or themore difficult DIY approach, then the remaining HR staff are free to take onthe mantle of HR business partner, ie, strategic adviser. So what does the role entail? Without doubt, it is to help senior managementto resource and develop the necessary skills to meet the demands of thebusiness plan. This starts with an early involvement in the plan, and calls forknowledge of strategy, markets, products, competition, and the commercial andfinancial challenges the business faces. It also demands an understanding ofthe HR impact on each of these. The HR business partner will need to articulate the type of organisationaldesign required to meet these challenges, and influence the business to ensurethe right structures and culture are developed. Additionally, the HR businesspartner will need to underpin this activity through appropriate policies toattract, develop and retain the right talent. But, as with all senior managers, the HR business partner needs to befinancially astute, and able to turn ideas into robust plans with a positiveand measurable bottom line impact. Only then will they be able to strategicallyinfluence the direction of their business, and gain credibility with theirpeers. Coaching, facilitation and change management skills are all basicrequirements, but I question the need for a detailed understanding of the HRbasics – this can be left to those more capable of delivering transactionalprocesses, and therefore CIPD qualifications are not a pre-requisite. But have today’s HR departments got the skills to meet this challenge? Canhome-grown HR professionals really make the grade of a business partner? I believe HR business partners are few and far between, and if the HRfunction is to seize the opportunity to help truly run a business, it must lookbeyond the function to recruit and develop the HR stars of the future.Operations, finance, commercial and even legal managers, could all prove a usefulsource of candidates. But the question is: will they want to work in HR? By Alan Bailey, Head of communications and change management, Xchanging Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img