“People issues are clearly now dominant on the business agenda, but as these issues become more important to business leaders, there is increasing tension between the needs of the company and HR’s ability to deliver.” (Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and the Economist Intelligence Unit 2007)
The rallying cry for HR practitioners for decades has been twofold: “HR must be at the Executive table” and “HR must be more strategic”. And yet many HR departments are still struggling to achieve both of these aims. Why is that? How did it come to this? Why are many HR departments still struggling to be recognized and to contribute?
The answers to these questions form an interconnected and integrated roadmap for HR departments to follow as they move forward to deal with the myriad of organizational people challenges.
What does HR have to do? How does an HR department move from being reactive to being proactive? How can they get to that elusive Executive table? How can they move to being strategic when there are so many administrative duties to do? The development of a truly strategic HR department will centre itself on these four initiatives.
- Be transformational, not transactional
- Think about your structure
- Be credible – have educated, experienced, trained HR practitioners
- Provide value for service
Sounds simple enough, but it is not. The reality is that if the HR department is largely concerned with transactional activities, they will not be at the Executive table. And moving from transactional to transformational involves many changes, from an attitude change to a broad-ranging change in activities.
We will deal with each of these points in this text.