Engagement, leadership, and employer branding are often identified as areas in which top managers in many organizations have to excel. At the same time, they struggle to retain and hire the right talent critical to mastering the mighty disruptions they face.
We spoke to, Alexander, a consultant in the COMATCH network with more than 20 years of experience in HR and talent management. He describes seven steps HR professionals should take to gain the often demanded role as an active part of the company’s organization.
According to Alexander, HR rarely receives the appreciation it deserves—even though people are the most critical success factor for organizations. However, many organizations struggle to retain and hire the right talent to master challenges like digitalization, sustainability, and innovation.
Getting a seat at the proverbial table is a sought-after goal and a point of contention for many HR Managers. And CEOs are, unfortunately, not often willing to send an invitation.
To get this recognition HR must become much more entrepreneurial. Here are the 7 steps anyone can take to do this.
- Begin with the business strategy. Think about what you want to achieve as an organization. This is not a conventional question for HR, but it is essential for each and every HR Manager to fully understand these points. Ask your CEO for support. If they don’t know, then you are asking exactly the right questions.
- Strategize with your senior leadership team. Discuss which capabilities your organization needs to achieve your strategic objectives. Unfortunately, many HR Managers do not have deep insight into their company’s business model—but it is crucial to have an understanding of it if you want more visibility within your organization.
- Determine which talent portfolio your organization needs. You need to lead the effort to build and sustain your strategic capabilities. Which jobs and roles are needed in the future and who is the “right” talent for your organization? HR Managers have to learn to see investment in talent like a financial investor would: all organizations have limited resources and have to make a conscious decision on how time and money should be invested to gain an optimum return. Most HR Managers feel uncomfortable with such a mindset or outright reject it, even if it is vital for the organization. For an excellent perspective on this topic, consider reading A Players or A Positions.
- Drive competencies critical to success. Have a clear perspective on the competencies required to succeed in a role. Do not think in terms of the still-common job descriptions with 30+ requirements listing everything and anything that comes to mind. Instead, use the Critical Incident Technique and ask senior business leaders what differentiates successful employees from below-average performers. As a result, you will gain a clear understanding of the skills required for the role rather than just guessing.
- Implement a strong talent management system which should include:
- Hiring the right candidates
- Onboarding new candidates
- Developing talent with differentiated career models and paths
- Assuring sustainability through systemic but flexible succession planning
- Maintaining current staff by scouting talent, assessing potential and performance, and providing opportunities for learning and development
- Ensure Leadership Enablement. HR must enable people management by establishing common beliefs and behaviors regarding leadership principles and values. Getting the middle managers and HR to ensure a common set of values and necessary toolsets for good management and leadership is key to any successful change. Another dimension of leadership enablement is the supply of reliable data for all people-related decisions to replace the all-too-common gut feeling—a huge area for improvement for many organizations.
- Forward organization-wide collaboration. The fact that communication and collaboration are critical for business performance is nothing new, but still, only a few companies excel in these disciplines. HR is an interdisciplinary function with responsibility for organizational design, corporate culture, and effective collaboration meaning you have the tools to initiate improvement, even if it means being relentless and persistent.
As long as HR does not master the first three points, HR Managers will remain implementers but not active creators and designers. Eventually, they are at risk of executing at the wrong end which in turn leads to the poor reputation HR has in many organizations. Behind the curtain, there is an implicit perception that “those folks in HR simply do not understand us.” This could one of the reasons why Chief HR roles in many organizations are preferentially taken by candidates from the business instead of HR. But this does not have to remain this way.
Depending on the maturity level of an HR organization, becoming more entrepreneurial can be a long journey. But, following these 7 steps can help you get there. And once you get your seat at the proverbial table, you will see a vast improvement in the people and culture aspects of your organization.