I once worked with an organisation that had introduced a Value Chain methodology. So far so good. But they had made the critical error of trying to pigeonhole HR into one of the ‘links’ in the chain, instead of realising that HR is a support function that, by definition, underpins everything that the company does. All too often, organisations see HR as some sort of ‘bolt-on’ to their business, almost an afterthought once the rest is in place – instead of appreciating that, if aligned correctly, HR strategy can directly contribute to achieving business objectives. So how can we make that alignment, and make sure that the ‘Golden Thread’ runs through business and HR strategy and pulls everything together? Here are a few key things to consider…
Firstly, consider training, learning and development (TLD) needs. If you know what you want your company to achieve (overall business aims and objectives), think – what is it we need staff to do, do differently, do better, or do more of, in order for them to be able to deliver on those objectives? Any TLD identified should be connected, directly or indirectly, to meeting a business objective. There’s no point in someone doing a course in flower arranging if it’s not relevant to their job or to the business.
Once you know what TLD needs people have, you can start to think about how you plan to meet those needs, what resources you have in place (money, time, equipment, people etc.) and most importantly – how you’ll measure the impact of the training. How will you know if it has been successful and people have relevant knowledge and skills as a result? Again, your success measures should link back to your business objectives – for example will there be an increase in productivity or profit, a decrease in errors or customer complaints etc.?
Reward and recognition
Paying a salary and giving holiday entitlement isn’t enough – how will you incentivise people to do what you want them to do, and reinforce it when they do the right things in the right way? To fully support the achievement of the organisation’s strategic aims, reward and recognition practices can be geared towards achievement of specific goals, targets, milestones and other behaviours and activities that directly impact on achieving those aims and objectives. For example, recognising and rewarding those who:
– particularly demonstrate or contribute to core values/attributes
– come up with outstanding ideas for improvement or that impact significantly on revenue or cost-saving
– share relevant knowledge and best practice with other members of the team that leads to marked improvements in performance
– achieve professional qualifications etc. that enhance their ability to deliver projects
Leadership and management
You know what you want your business to be like and to achieve – so what kind of leaders and managers will you need in order to do that? Different types of organisations need different management styles and capabilities. Defining a clear set of knowledge, skills and behaviours expected of people managers will form a basis for the organisation to further develop:
· A common ‘standard’ of what an effective people manager looks like, understood at all levels across the organisation, which could then contribute to a continued consistent approach to people management and development.
· A fair and transparent approach to the recruitment, selection and development of future managerial roles, as there would be a list of specific people-management skills against which to select and develop people.
· Development of effective processes to support managerial training, learning and development in these areas, and identification of learning and development needs which can then feed into future training plans.
· Increased effectiveness of performance evaluation and development of managers.
What sort of culture do you want to have in place that will fit with what your business is trying to achieve? Should it be formal, structured, regulated, or relaxed, innovative, fluid? The people management practices you have in place will impact on this – for example how you approach recruitment and selection, work-life balance, diversity and equality, staff communications, involvement and empowerment etc. So don’t just make it up as you go along – have clear processes and procedures with defined strategic aims in mind! Think about where you want to be and how you can get there, and adjust your people management strategies accordingly.
In short, you should be able to improve your business performance through how you lead, manage and develop your staff. If you don’t have an HR strategy that is aligned with what your business is trying to achieve – if that golden thread isn’t there – then it may even be counterproductive, putting obstacles in the way of achieving your goals! So don’t lose sight of how HR contributes to the bottom line – get that golden thread running through everything your business does, including your HR processes, and the business will be far more likely to succeed!