Human Resources

How to become a Strategic Human Resources Professional

Trying to get a seat at ‘the table’ has long been a challenge for HR professionals. The value we bring to a company can be difficult to measure and frequently we are underestimated by our peers as well as organizational executives.
In this post I am going to explain Strategic Human resources and how this will help to move your career to the next level.

Strategic Human resources
A seat at ‘the table’

The key is to becoming a STRATEGIC HR professional.

Who am I serving?

The first crucial question you have to ask yourself is ‘Who am I serving’? I want you to really think about this; and I KNOW you’re probably going to say our employees. But NO! The strategic HR professional would realize that they are in fact serving their employer. I am going to assume your organization is a business. Your job is to bring value to the business, therefor you are serving your organization. This may include shareholders, owners, or even members; it doesn’t matter, they are sitting at the big table. You exist to bring them value and whether that means you protect them from the law, Human Rights, or even the god awful creatures from  health and safety;  it doesn’t matter, serving the organization is your job.

But..my people?

I can hear you protesting. ‘But my people need me” you say. They may need someone, but it isn’t necessarily YOU. As a strategic HR professional you are there to work with the employees’ supervisors or managers; after all, they are the transactional individuals when handling employee concerns, not you; you are strategic. Coincidentally, protecting the company against risk often translates into doing what is best (not easiest) for the employee too. Don’t be a bleeding heart. Bleeding hearts never sit at the big table.

Recruiting and strategy

Recruiting; how does the strategic HR professional handle recruiting? You provide the manager and supervisors with the tools, technology, and pipelines to find their candidates and send them on their way. Yes, keep an eye on how the process is moving along. Yes, give them assistance when they need it, but your are STRATEGIC not tactical, and definitely not transactional so you do not sift through every resume and application that comes in.

Technology in recruiting

The strategic HR professional is also savvy enough to keep an eye on hiring and technology trends. If posting jobs to traditional job boards isn’t cutting it, look into what will bring in the applicants your company needs. Maybe it’s LinkedIn, maybe it’s employee referrals. Whatever it is, keep on top of it. If you don’t know, keep digging till you find it, and do it before your executives devalue your very existence.

Performance management

Performance management; how does the strategic HR professional handle performance management? You provide the managers and supervisors with the tools they need to effectively manage their employees. Consequently if the time comes when someone needs to be terminated, your manager will have already performed the various steps to mitigate severance losses. This is a sure fire measurable way for your guidance to be given tangible value.

Progressive discipline in strategic Human Resources

The strategic HR professional saves the company on severance costs. How do they do this,? They teach their managers and supervisors to “coach, coach coach, progressive discipline, then out the door”. To encourage managers and supervisors to perform this task they have to be measured on their own effectiveness. Long gone are the days when underperforming staff get sent down to ‘personnel’ for their letter of discipline. Managers must own the process, and the company Strategic HR professional is their guide along the way.

Practically speaking

If you are currently part of a transactional HR team, or even a team of one person you may be wondering how you will fill your days if management is being held accountable for your dally tasks. You will be filling them with training and development plans, workforce planning, compensation management, employee relations, and workplace culture just for starters. In addition you will be aligning the HR strategic plans with your company’s strategic plans. In the long term you will develop a business plan complete with goals, projections and measurements. your business plan will illustrate your value to your company. You will analyze your company in those terms, identify gaps, develop plans to fill those gaps and calculate a value for your plans. Ultimately you will assign monetary value to everything you do, you will think of the consequences of your plans.

The secret?

In the end, if you have a real desire to graduate from transactional HR, skip over tactical HR and get right to Strategic HR. Think of yourself as a commodity working for the company; not the employees.

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