Do you have a “seat at the table?” This is an age old question in HR circles and it is basically asking if you are an HR business partner and as such are you and your team delivering maximum results to help your business achieve its goals and strategy? If you do not have a seat at the table what are you doing to earn it? If you are just waiting for it to happen I’m afraid you may be out of luck.
HR professionals must ensure that there is a direct connection between the policies, programs, and services they offer and the organization’s larger purpose/picture. Absent that clear and intentional linkage, HR is just a cost center that goes under appreciated and delivers minimum real value to the business. In order for HR leaders to take a strategic approach to their work they must first fully understand their business (business acumen) and what the HR implications are to the business. HR leaders must also be able to articulate their views clearly and concisely to business leaders which often times means taking an unpopular position (managerial courage). Influence skills are exceptionally important also.
A prerequisite to the above is to ensure, at a minimum, that your HR organization is effectively and efficiently delivering HR services. Providing good service is the price of admission; if HR cannot operate effectively as a "mini business," it will be hard to convince others that its input on business issues is worth much.
A good place to start your HRPB journey: Staffing. HR typically has influence when it comes to how staffing relates to strategy. In other words, HR needs to recruit and hire X talent, in Y location(s) over a specific time frame in order for the business to perform and execute its strategy and there are many discussions with leaders in that process. This is often a good place to leverage and increase HR’s role as a strategic partner. Conversations with senior leaders in this space should be relatively easy to have. Ensure you have solid and meaningful staffing metrics such as the quality of hires, not simply how many hires over a given time frame. Incorporate competencies into your talent acquisition process to help ensure your hires are a “good fit.” Include senior leaders in this process. Once instilled in the recruiting process, competencies can easily be transitioned and effectively used in the performance management process to measure “how” employees are doing their jobs. The performance management process is a very effective way to articulate and cascade the company’s strategy and goals across the entire organization and can also be the catalyst for additional strategic discussions with senior leadership.
If you can effectively accomplish the above in your organization, you will have built a very solid foundation from which to grow into a true HR business partner role and earn your seat at the table. Please also review our Learn & GO HR/organizational modules on myCAI to help you in this journey. If you would like to discuss this journey in the context of your current role and business environment please call Tom Sheehan or myself here at CAI.
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