While HR is often viewed as a “non-revenue-generating” department made up primarily of housekeeping duties – this is certainly a misperception. A strong HR department is the backbone of any successful company, and it’s impossible to have a strong, growing organization without one. However, the responsibility for providing (and proving) this value rests on HR leaders alone.
With that in mind, here are three practical takeaways that HR leaders can employ to help accomplish a trifecta of value-generating goals:
- Aligning their efforts with broader organizational objectives
- Earning a seat at the table with key decision makers
- Streamlining their processes and empowering their team to contribute greater value at every level.
1. Align HR as an extension of strategic business goals
To achieve success, a business must view its people as its strength. In this respect, HR leaders must align their employees with key organizational goals. To accomplish this, HR leaders need to closely assess each role, at every level, to determine whether they’re functioning in support of the overall mission.
As Harvard Business Review notes, it can be useful to map competencies for each position – helping you to understand where you may have skill or performance gaps, and where you might need to fill them.
Note that the goal here isn’t necessarily to trim your staff, but more to reorient them and develop their professional abilities so that they can best meet larger objectives. You should be sure to understand how certain roles (sales, for instance) can be better supported in their tasks, and where that support can come from.
You may need to educate or retrain employees on certain competencies – lending them the skills and confidence needed to be more effective in their roles.
Beyond training employees, you may also need to realign business processes themselves. For instance, salespeople may need to better understand the applications of your product. In this process, as HR Dive observes, you should not underestimate the value of plotting organizational changes, as well as creating detailed cross-functional change strategies in order to implement (and direct) those changes. In this capacity, HR can function as a kind of “change architect.”
2. Automate, standardize, and externalize
Although a number of HR roles and processes have been automated or outsourced, the core functions of HR, when executed well, are tasks that cannot be automated. It’s for this reason that streamlining processes and leveraging technology can actually be a good idea because it allows your team to focus on the tasks that are truly value-generating.
Where possible, you should standardize your routine processes and automate tedious, repetitive tasks across your department. This not only frees up time and reduces the mental load for you and your team, but also minimizes the costs of everyday operations and ensures that your processes – as well as the language used to describe them – are consistent across the company.
At the same time, you should leverage HR technology to establish and track performance measures for employee roles. This enables you to easily see where employees are performing well, where there are gaps, and where you can drive efficiencies, such as through training or process management.
With these benchmarks in place, you can then focus on the high-level changes needed to create value. But remember: these are only benchmarks, not a substitute for close, qualitative assessment of performance.
3. Get to the table and coordinate closely to demonstrate your value
HR should never be an island. It’s essential to regularly meet with company stakeholders to both craft ongoing strategy and demonstrate how you’re bringing value to the business. In these strategic planning sessions, you should clearly articulate how you can leverage your HR functions (training, education, hiring, team building) to meet ongoing business goals.
Where HR is out of alignment, you should create clear plans for improving your strategy and keeping business leaders apprised of your progress.
It can be helpful to use hard metrics derived from HR technology to tangibly demonstrate to stakeholders how your efforts are contributing to overall business goals. This gives you the opportunity to track your quantitative progress with business leaders and collaborate closely to improve performance at every level of the organization.
In the same vein, it enables business leaders to ground their high-level vision into your concrete people strategy, helping them to understand how integral your efforts are to overall company success.
While HR can often be viewed as a profit-neutral department, it should instead be seen as a key driver of business operations. By aligning your top-down efforts with broad organizational goals, streamlining your operations to focus on big-picture, value-generating objectives, and by coordinating closely with business leaders, HR leaders can not only bring more value to their organization, but also become integral decision makers.