HR strategy forum

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. HR strategy forumOn 1 Jul 2003 in Personnel Today How the forum works This week Personnel Today, supported by some of the industry’s mostexperienced people (see below), launches a major new initiative to help readersbecome more strategic in their day-to-day operations. Over the coming months, Personnel Today will give a unique, developmentalopportunity to hone your strategic skills using a wide range of HR scenariossubmitted by senior HR professionals. Each week, our panel of experienced practitioners and consultants willprovide solutions to a typical strategic HR dilemma. You can get involved bysending in your own problems, marked ‘strategic dilemmas’ to [email protected] consultantsDuncan Brown, Assistant director general, CIPDPaul Kearns, Director, PWLJim Mattewman, Mercer, Human Resource ConsultingAndrew Mayo, Director, MLILouise Allen, Director, LA PartnersPenny Davis. Head of HR, UK operations, T-MobileMarie Gill, HR director, AsdaNeil Roden, HR director, Royal Bank of ScotlandRalph Tribe, Vice-president of HR, Getty ImagesDilys Winn, HR director Gloucestershire County CouncilMargaret Savage, Head of HR strategy, BTWhat exactly is HR strategy?HR strategy is notoriously difficultto define and pin down. Paul Kearns helps to identify the fundamental elementsWhat’s the difference between strategy, policy andpractice? Some decisions are truly strategic, while others are merely tacticalor reactive. Being able to distinguish between them is crucial if you want to developinto an HR strategist. Why? Because those who formulate genuine HR strategieswill transform their organisations, add an immense amount of value and maketheir greatest personal contribution. So can you learn how to tell thedifference? Here are five pointers to help you sort out the genuine HR strategists fromthe policy-makers. – Have clear, strategic business objectives been identified? Is it marketshare, costs, sales, productivity, customer service, product development,research or innovation capability? Strategic HR has to be linked to such key,strategic business objectives. – Are the strategic objectives specific, unequivocal and measurable? What istheir potential value? What is a 1 per cent increase in market share worth inpounds? What does a two-point improvement in customer satisfaction mean interms of sales volumes? – Strategic timeframes, almost by definition, tend to be long. So, is therea stated time horizon and is it more like six weeks, six months or six years? – One of the easiest ways to identify HR strategy is when it sets out toreconfigure the organisation. So, is this HR strategy setting out to change theorganisational structure, the business processes or both? – Does HR have a strategic role to play? Is it working at board level? Doesit have the credibility to lead on change management? HR is only trulystrategic when it is leading on some of the issues. If it is taking the leadfrom another department (production have decided to set up a new productionfacility, for example), then it is just HR planning, not strategy. This is going to be a steep but rewarding learning curve for those who wantto take up the strategic HR challenge. Use this column to your best advantage. Paul Kearns is a member of the HR Strategy Forum and author of HRStrategy: Business Focused, Individually Centred. The dilemmaI am the HR director of a UK financial services firm. Thebusiness is 10 years old, and has grown rapidly, with annual sales of £850m.But we are facing increased competition from new entrants andglobal players looking to grow their UK market share. Furthermore, growthpredictions are pessimistic for our sector.The board wants to put plans in place that will enable us tomeet the challenges, with a reduction in cost, increase in efficiency, and theattraction and retention of high-value customers.We employ more than 8,000 people across the UK and, as well ashead office functions, we have retail and contact centres, and home-based salespeople.Rapid growth has meant we have been able to give employeesexcellent promotion opportunities and many of our managers are in their firstpeople management roles.In the past, we focused on customer acquisition, with littleemphasis on systems, financial control or process improvement. Our planning hastended to be tactical.I have a number of senior HR managers supporting differentareas of the business, who are located with their teams in the areas theysupport. In addition, there are a number of specialist central groups, whoprovide training, organisational design and support on compensation andbenefits. All other HR activity is done locally. HR has provided a traditional response service for the businessand most of what we do is operational. There has not been a compelling need todeliver a strategic agenda.There are 200 people in the HR team. I am concerned that ourcurrent structure and capability will not enable the delivery of the futurestrategic agenda.The chief executive has asked function heads to present howthey will contribute to meeting the challenges. We have also been asked toassess and review the structure and capability of our teams.What changes should I be considering?Solution 1 By Margaret Savage the Director of Corporate HR Strategy and Systems, BTStep 1 Work closely with the board, key business and influential line managers totruly understand vision, current/planned business drivers and the impact ontheir people. Establish what worries them and what they need from HR to deliverrevenue targets or efficiency results. Explore workforce perceptions andattitudes. Spot potential barriers to success, including ‘unwritten rules’ andleadership weaknesses.Step 2 This results-orientated analysis shapes the people strategy that dictatesthe organisational and functional agenda for an integrated HR strategy –defining the need for transformational change; scoping demand for value-add HRsolutions; prioritising plan deliverables/objectives; scaling total labourcost, resourcing and skill demands, etc. Scan the external environment forother influences; impending legislative changes, and shared learningopportunities from others, including competitors and different industries,facing similar challenges. Reflect on the relevance of existing HR policies tothe emerging landscape and employment branding going forward.Step 3Having aligned business, people and HR strategies, test systems and ideaswith key business leaders for impact, fit and support. Engage the wider HR teamto begin on HR skills gap analysis and discussions on consequences for futureroles and responsibilities. Again, selectively test potential scenarios foremployee reactions. Co-opt selected influential senior HR leaders to cementcollective commitment to the change agenda and demonstrably refine or adjustplan ideas in line with feedback.Simultaneously, examine the competitiveness of the present HRfunction. Identify systems infrastructure weaknesses; start to map currentprocesses; use RACI techniques (the matrix tool for assigning jobresponsibilities) to establish critical touch points; probe the true cost ofoperation; examine HR performance or service reports; study current activitiesand transactional volumes; analyse employee measures and people capitalmetrics; assess managerial bench strength and responsiveness of the currentstructure.Step 4With research and diagnostics complete, engage senior HR managers indetermining the transformational change agenda for HR itself. It might not beeasy, but persist.In the short term, enlist support to deliver the CEO’schallenge by ensuring HR plans are focused on delivering the company’s newgoals. Reach shared agreement on the prioritised HR workstack with cleardeliverables and output measures; agree prime target activities for eliminationfrom products and services portfolio; improve operational effectiveness throughthe eradication of duplication or exploitation of synergies and collaborativeworking. Check the scope for rapid policy and process simplification andlikely e-enablement opportunities. Benchmark best practice, drilling down onquick wins for cost reduction. Build functional capability or skillsdevelopment plans and secure funding. Finally, adjust HR resources in line withchanges to deliver planned HR efficiency improvements and cost savings.  Solution 2 By Ralph Tribe the vice-president of HR at Getty ImagesStep 1 With 200 people in HR, it should be possible to specifically select a smallnucleus of your best people to assess the situation, develop a strategy, crafta plan, present and then implement it. Select this small team on the basis ofbusiness knowledge, analytical ability, project management and relationshipmanagement skills. HR knowledge is clearly important, but these will be thedefining skills in any environment characterised by significant change.Step 2If the business strategy revolves around customer retention and loyalty,then the HR strategy must reflect this. It is critical that the strategy is notso much based on general best practice, but rather on HR activity that can beleveraged to differentiate your specific business in the market. As such, youneed to consider what your competitors are doing from an HR perspective, andprioritise what you can do better or differently.Step 3Get out into the business and talk to line managers about their strategiesfor driving efficiencies and delivering increased customer loyalty. Sound themout on your ideas, and get their input on what HR activity would mostpositively impact their plans. Their contribution not only helps your HR teamdevelop a clear strategy, but will broaden ownership prior to any finaldecision-making. The most obvious way of winning board-level support is to havediscussed it with board members prior to presentation. Never present a surprise.Step 4In response to the CEO’s call for reduced costs, prioritise current andplanned HR activity in terms of its contribution to the organisation’s newcorporate goals, and then cut from the bottom of the list until you hit yourcost reduction target (if you don’t have this target yet, expect it soon). Step 5 The structure of the future HR organisation should fall out of the HRstrategy and activity plan developed to this point. Avoid falling into the trapof defining your organisation structure before you have agreed what it is goingto deliver. You should obviously engage other business managers in asimilar dialogue to help them design their own organisations using the sameapproach. Comments are closed. 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