HR as Strategic Partner

Empowering People to Drive Productivity

Business Partners

Making HR as strategic partner is perhaps the best approach to making human resources as the most important asset in an organization.

"Being a strategic partner" is understood as a long-term relationship to achieve defined objectives common to all partners. Some HR experts refer to HR as business partner.

In the context of strategic human resource management, the HR function and activities are intended to ensure the organization's financial success.

As partners your HR people and employees in the various areas of the organization's operations must not get in the way of other employees. Partners do not hinder or undermine one another. Instead, they support each other to achieve common objectives with the purpose of attaining the overall objectives, particularly business objectives.

There are some who are of the opinion that the implementation of HR strategic partnership is not easy. HR people themselves may hinder its implementation. Change in mindset is needed.

A strategic plan will ensure that people will carry out their own specific role in their assigned area of operation in partnership with other employees.

This is part of the plan to make HR as strategic partner. It incorporates the HR Vision and Mission that help pull HR people and other employees in the same direction. In order to bring this about, everyone must have a sense of belonging.

Make HR as Strategic Partner

Some of the reasons may sound familiar to you.

These include:

  • To increase productivity of the labor force and thus, profitability of the organization;
  • Competency and talent management;
  • Onset of information technology and the vast amount of knowledge used in the course of the activities of organizations;
  • The changing business environment;
  • Effect of globalization on the business landscape.

HR can help bridge the gap between different sectors of the organization.

Provision of Human Resource Services

It is through effective delivery of human resource services that you can make human resource as strategic partner.

Use a simple approach, make effective use of technology, and either serve most of your customers or serve a particularly important sector exceptionally well.

All knowledgeable business people are aware that customers include both internal and external customers. Strive to serve both well.

In the case of internal customers, concentrate on employees at the strategic and tactical levels.

Make sure HR is involved at both levels. If not, there is not much that HR can contribute towards improving organizational performance.

But it does not mean we ignore employees at the operational level. Serve well those involved in the day-to-day operations of the organization that are closest to where the money is. These are the employees whose activities generate revenue for your organization. If service at this sector is not not up to expectation, customers will go away.

It is necessary that you identify these positions and the employees holding those positions.

Translating Business Strategy Into Action

You make HR as strategic partner when and if HR spend more time in the organization's planning, design and development. Your organization does this in order to achieve its mission and objectives.

HR must become part of the business team, involved in planning at the highest level.

Changes in HR management are inevitable. HR Managers and HR professionals are in the strategic position in providing the leadership in change management.F

However, HR Managers are not without challenges. Enhance the position of HR as strategic partner by ensuring that teamwork exists in your organization.

The Human Resource Manager is the key person in ensuring that people play a strategic role in the organization.

In activities carried out by the HR department, working in cooperation with each other and every member of the workforce is essential. This can help your organization to succeed in achieving its plans.

To make HR as Strategic Partner, organizations need to:

  • Make effective use of your Human Resource Information System (HRIS) to handle daily administrative HR tasks. Employees can make use of the self-service facility online. This saves time and reduces costs.
  • Fully involve your human resource in HR system development that is supportive of business strategy development and implementation. This promotes ownership.
  • Appoint an HR Head who understands well the strategic partnership relationship between organizational strategy and human resource.
  • It is said that someone who is an expert in every aspect of the HR function will 'fit the bill'. But, you may not easily find someone of this caliber. You may have to identify someone from within your organization and groom him or her for this important role.

  • In a knowledge economy, HR has an opportunity to become a strategic partner. Knowledge and information are required to formulate, implement and review strategies. Decide to become a knowledge organization.

The Human Resource Function and Your Strategic Business Plan

It was shown in a survey that there is a correlation between being strategic business partner and the effectiveness of the HR function.

You require strategic HR management to ensure that your HR function can fully support the achievement of business objectives. Chief executives including general managers need to ensure that this is done.

The administrative reactive approach in people management can no longer support your organization in an increasingly competitive business environment.

What about Decentralizing your HR Function?

Don't allow full decentralization as a strategy.

Line managers and supervisors resent it and will put the blame on HR when problems arise.

And if you do so, it interferes with the effective use of line managers' and supervisors' time in the day-to-day operations of the organization.

Give line managers and supervisors HR accountability, not responsibility. And give them undivided support in order to make them more proficient in managing their subordinates in the performance of daily tasks.

Promote HR as strategic partner by:

Full participation of HR people in strategy development and implementation

Ensure that your HR Manager and HR professionals:

  • contribute to business decisions
  • develop business acumen to understand how a profitable business is run
  • are customer-oriented
  • learn how to link HR practices to your organizational business strategy

What are Required of HR as Strategic Partner?

These are among the important ones.

  • Recruiting the right employees. Align corporate values to your recruitment strategy.
  • Well-developed competencies of the workforce, and their relevance to organizational core business.
  • Participative culture where HR initiatives fully support the overall strategic plan.
  • Effective use of information technology.
  • Effective leadership through appointment of the right HR Head.
  • Identification of human resource practices that make HR as strategic partner, namely, serving the business needs of your organization. Discard ineffective HR practices that do not contribute to the success of your organization.

Continuous Improvement

HR management requires continuous improvement to ensure it retains its relevance as strategic partner.

Capable and committed people are needed at every level in order for this to happen

Senior management support is crucial to ensure that human resource becomes your organization's strategic partner.

It is said that nothing changes except change itself. Change is inevitable for the continued success of your organization. Manage them well to avoid or minimize disruption in your organization's activities.

Other Pre-Conditions

The effectiveness of your people as HR as strategic partner is also dependent upon your existing corporate policies and practices, structures, the types of activities you carry out, the location, effective communication, and the business environment.

Review every aspect of HR in the process of implementing the necessary changes and reorganization.

Having the right leadership is crucial to success. Provide the necessary leadership and support to your employees at every level.

Motivate them and engage their full attention with the view to ensure HR truly becomes strategic partner.

And always remember, effective and on-going communication is crucial to ensure that everything is understood by every employee at every level. And that things keep moving in the right direction according to plan.

Measurement of HR Contribution

The things already stated are important. But there is an important matter that needs attention.

Ask, "How do I know whether my HR function is playing its role?"

Implement an HR performance measurement such as the HR Scorecard. This can show whether your organization is well on the road to making HR as strategic partner.

What is an HR Scorecard?
Read some good books by experts such as "The HR Scorecard: Linking People, Strategy, and Performance" by Brian E. Becker, Mark A. Huselid and Dave Ulrich.

Enhancement of Competitive Advantage

By doing these things, you can increase the competitive advantage of your organization through the alignment of human resource strategies to your overall business plan.

This goes towards strengthening the importance of HR as strategic partner.

It goes without saying that effective leadership skills at various levels in your organization, including HR, is vital to corporate success. This is the type of leadership that drives the success of organizations.

HR Budget

In order to ensure that HR truly becomes strategic business partner, adequate financial backing is necessary.

Risks of financial shutdown

Take measures to ward off or minimize risks to HR. Further to this, ensure that HR plays a meaningful role, if not a major role, during financial crises.

Being in HR requires you to know and understand certain things and to do something about them.

You do not have the luxury of experimenting how to manage people and, thus, using a trial and error approach. Making HR as strategic partner is an insurance that your organization will succeed in more ways than one.

Check out what happens if HR does not exist in an organization.

Check out this Book on "Strategic Business Partner: Aligning HR Strategies With Business Goals" by Dana Gaines Robinson

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