Tag Archives: Strategic HR

Better HR Communication for a Better 2015

Early every year, the President of the United States makes an address to the nation. The purpose of the annual “State of the Union” address is to give an account of the year’s events and discuss the priorities of the coming months. If communicated properly, this is an opportunity to reach a larger audience, share major goals, and get buy-in from the constituency.

So why don’t we give it a shot?

I think every HR pro needs to have their own State of the Union address within their own company, department, or team (depending on the level of responsibility). This is strategic HR communication at its best, and it could become a valuable tool to allow leaders to peer into the inner workings of the HR strategy while allowing HR leaders to share key results areas as well. In fact, even compliance can be strategic, if communicated properly.

Here’s a quote from one study I found:

“Only 20 percent of [the largest publicly traded] companies discuss HR in their reports to shareholders. About one-quarter provides only limited references to the workforce, and some don’t mention their employees at all.”

Can you imagine how our stakeholders would react if we spent 30-50% of our budget on a resource and then never followed up about how it was being utilized? In effect, this is what’s happening with regard to our human capital investments.

How big is your “union?”

As I stated above, depending on where you are in your organization’s hierarchy, you might only be addressing your HR teammates. Or maybe you have the ability to snag an audience with your senior leadership team, and you’re willing to put together a short presentation for that group.

Whatever the case, the size and target audience will be different for everyone, but the tips below will still help you in defining what to discuss.

What to say

Okay, so I’ve sold you on the idea of delivering your own “state of HR” address, but what do you actually say? Here are a few ideas to consider based on the results of Brandon Hall Group’s Business Focus 2014: Leaders’ Top Priorities report:

  • Talent retention—Discuss retention initiatives and any cost savings associated with reduced turnover
  • Learning and development—Give examples of new human capital capabilities brought about by learning and development investments
  • Performance management—Talk about increased performance or reduced turnover expenses associated with improved employee performance
  • Leadership strategy—Provide insights into the role the leadership strategy has played in supporting business growth
  • Sales strategy and planning—Offer data to demonstrate how HR supported the needs of the sales staff and leadership

These certainly aren’t the only topics you can cover, but this is a good starting point based on what organizational leaders need to hear.

The bottom line

This is your chance to get in front of a key audience (whether it’s the rest of your team or another influential group) and share your message about how HR’s priorities align with those of the business.

What are you waiting for?

Closing comments

  • Which stakeholders would benefit most from hearing this address from you or your HR leaders?
  • What are the key issues your leaders are facing that you can include in your address?

 Originally published on the Brandon Hall Group blog

How to Be a Strategic HR Player in 2015

keep-calm-and-tell-me-what-you-want-to-hear-3You’ve heard the talk about HR strategy and how it can make your organization better–now it’s time to live it. I want to help you make 2015 the best year yet in that respect, but I need a little help from you to make it happen.

I’m doing a little research on strategic HR, developing an HR strategy, and strategic HR planning, and I’d really appreciate if you would take this two-question survey to help me understand what you want to know more about so I can prepare to teach those topics.

Click here to take the survey

Thanks! I’m looking forward to seeing your response.

How to Avoid the “Let Me Get Back to You” Trap

hr strategy know the business

HR is always a day late and a dollar short.
-Chris Powell, CEO BlackbookHR

That comment from Chris Powell has stuck with me since our initial conversation, and I think it’s a reality we all need to be aware of and try to mitigate. Think of it this way — when someone asks finance, sales, or operations about specific facts, figures, and projections, they can typically throw out a ballpark answer within moments.

But for some reason, HR has always taken the “let me get back to you on that” approach. And that, my friends, is not a winning strategy.

One of the things I was taught early in my HR career is to always have the trusty response of “let me get back to you” ready for when someone asks you a question you don’t know. Over time, I have seen the use of that grow until it’s used on an almost daily basis as a way for HR pros to get out of conversations they are not comfortable with (discussions of revenue, sales, productivity or other hard numbers).

We can’t let that be a crutch any more. It’s time to start learning the business, having some insights ready to go, and being able to share information as quickly as other organizational leaders.

For instance, if someone asks the VP of sales how his numbers are looking, he can (more often than not) immediately respond with a good approximation of the current status. Think for a moment about how that compares credibility-wise when someone asks HR a similar question and we say, “Um, I’ll have to check and let you know.”

Let’s fix it, shall we? Check out “‘Let me get back to you on that’ is not a strategy” over at the Brandon Hall Group blog for more info and to see how to resolve this longstanding problem.

HR Video Roundup Version I

I am testing out something new this week and have been publishing short, 1-2 minute videos on YouTube daily as a way to get some quick thoughts out there on a variety of topics. I’m rounding up this week’s content here. Let me know what you think about the topics, format, etc.

\Subscribers will need to click through to view the videos below)

HR: it’s not about finding a seat at the table, it’s about finding the food truck

Today we’re looking at how HR isn’t necessarily about finding a “seat at the table,” but it’s more like “finding the food truck.” It’s often a moving target and to be strategically relevant we need to put some effort into the process to make it work.
Credit to Chris Powell, CEO of BlackbookHR for the great quote!

Innovation, HR Conferences, and HRevolution

Talking about how to drive innovation and innovative thinking when the traditional training and conference events are created to help us continue doing things as they have always been done. In addition, events like HRevolution (http://thehrevolution.org) DO create those types of thinking.

Making the workplace better: micro and macro views

How can we make the workplace better? Some people look at a massive innovation across the board, while others seek out how to make one-on-one relationships better and build out from there. Good discussion.

Have something you’d like to see me discuss? Let me know!

Startup HR: Planning vs Doing

Startup HR is something that I have talked about a bit before. Today I will answer a question from a reader who works for HR in a startup company.

The question

Good Morning,

I have been reading your blogs and your Slideshares and it has been easy reading for me and is helping me along my way. I just started working for a start up tech company in Portland Oregon in May. The CFO was basically doing all HR work until now. I am now THE HR department. I am new and I have never had a role in HR before. I was wondering if there was a way to guide me in implementing HR stuff over the next year. What I should be doing in this next month, three months, six months, and so forth.

Please help!

The answer

First of all, have you seen the guide to building an HR department?

I think that will be incredibly valuable for you. It’s really tough to say what you should be doing at specific date-based milestones, because there’s no telling what the business will look like at each of those 6, 12, 18 month marks.

The big picture is understanding what sort of HR needs the business and staff have at each stage of the game and planning ahead to make sure you can hit those targets when the appropriate time comes. For instance, at some point you’ll need to start thinking about performance reviews for staff or maybe you’ll have to find a good applicant tracking system if you guys are hiring. Knowing some of those items on the horizon is how you show the best value for the business. Especially when you’re doing startup HR for a technology company, it’s important to keep those overall business needs in mind, because they can change rapidly.

Thanks for reaching out!

Ben

Do you have a suggestion for the reader? Feel free to share! Also, if you have questions, shoot them over to ben AT upstarthr.com and I’d be happy to try to fit them into the schedule. Thanks!

63% of Organizations Have No HR Strategy In Place

Study Shows HR Doesn’t Do Strategy (Shocker)

The other day I was reading some data (be still my heart!) and ran across something that didn’t initially surprise me. However, the more I think about it the more I am puzzled that this is still an ongoing issue. I reported on some other data  a while back that ties in pretty closely with this topic.

HR strategy chartSometimes you have to stop and wonder where common sense has gone. Companies are expecting more from their HR team than ever before, but according to data gathered by XpertHR, companies are increasing the number of employees relative to the number of HR professionals.

This leads to a number of trickle-down effects, but the major one is forcing those human resources employees into a more administrative function. There’s no hands-on, friendly interaction. There’s no face-to-face discussion of what the company has to offer to you as an individual. Read more about the HR to employee ratio.

So, in short, the more employees you have relative to HR pros, the more transactional the HR team has to be. Now let’s take a peek at the latest and greatest on HR strategy:

Only a little over one in three respondents (36.5 percent) say that their organization has a documented HR strategy.

Where such a strategy exists, nearly three in four (73 percent) say it was developed as an integral part of the overall organizational strategy, while just 18 percent say it was developed as a follow-up exercise once the overall organizational strategy was adopted. Just under one in ten (8.4 percent) said that their HR strategy was developed independently of the overall organizational strategy, suggesting a potential disconnect from, or lack of integration with, the organization. Source

Approximately 63% of organizations have no HR strategy in place. That just astounds me. The business world needs HR pros to provide business-minded, strategic leadership, but the profession as a whole can’t seem to get its act together and take charge of setting its own path.

I think the conversation around branding an HR department is applicable here. No matter what you say, your actions will always betray your true motives. Don’t just talk about being a strategic partner–live it.

What are your thoughts on this data? Is it surprising? Why or why not? 

Differentiation is Critical for Long Term Success

Today we’re talking about the importance of differentiating your HR practices to increase your value and the satisfaction of your customers, both internal and external. Check out the video (subscribers click through to view):

The bottom line? You should explore the possibility of differentiating your offerings where you can. I’ve long said that as technology and globalization make the world smaller, the gap between competing companies shrinks. The best way, therefore, to stand out from the crowd is through excellence in HR service delivery. World class HR helps organizations deliver world class service.

Differentiate your HR practices from other organizations. Customize your offerings to the degree you can.

But beware the trap of trying to be all things to all people. below you’ll see some excellent advice on how to know when to accept or reject an opportunity to customize your HR service delivery.

The argument for and against customization

Here’s a snippet from my friend Kris Dunn on how customization can be used to improve your HR service delivery based on lessons learned in a software development environment.

The bottom line is that customization causes complexity. The same logic holds true for your HR shop.  If you’re good, you’ve got a set way of doing things, and if you do it the same way often enough, it’s going to work pretty well.  But you’ll have requests from your client group often to do it different ways.  It’s hard to say no, but you should say no when you can.  Complexity eats away at your ability to deliver in an efficient way.

You know when customization for your HR client group really makes sense?  The same time that it makes sense for a software company.  When the work that you’ll do to customize creates features that can be rolled out to more than one person/client.

Say yes to custom work that results in your HR practice being deeper and capable of delivering more.  Make sure you approach it like a product manager, to make it replicable.

Run away from other custom work if you can.  But the take above means that if you run away every time custom work is requested, you’re probably transactional – not strategic. Source: The HR Capitalist

I’d love to hear from some of you about what you do to differentiate/customize your HR practices to increase the value you’re offering to your candidates, employees, managers, and customers.