Strategic Human Resources

I’m noticing a real common thread that divides human resource departments in all size organizations, and that is whether they are strategic planners, or reactive players.  Those that are most successful and admired are the strategic planners and those that are becoming unemployed are the reactive players.

I spend most of my consulting time in the small to mid-sized organization where my skills are in higher demand, this trend of every company needs a human resources department is being squashed by the perception that HR is just a clerical role.  Talented HR managers are being laid off and their entire function is being assigned as additional duties to an administrative person to handle the paperwork because they are only putting out fires, and not preventing them.

While I admit there is a lot of clerical work to HR, for that matter all jobs have a clerical component, some HR departments have made it their only function.  So when it comes time to save money, out goes the department.

I recently met a new client that has been the HR Director for his company for 21 years.  The time alone impressed me, because he had to be making a difference to the business or he would have been history a long time ago.  Yet what he wants to accomplish this year is all based off a strategic plan for all 12 months.  When I asked him when he wanted to start the project we were talking about, he knew exactly when, because it fell in after other projects would be completed and before other projects could even begin.  What a pleasure it will be to work with this kind of a planner.

Another client, with about the same amount of employees is still procrastinating on a key project, because “the timing isn’t right yet.”  She is putting out fires, and her team is walking out on her to look for other jobs.  The place is a total disaster and I’m hoping we can stop the bleeding before she loses everything.  I looked at her LinkedIn resume and noticed that in the past 20 years she has worked for 9 different companies.  Could it be that she is unable to demonstrate value, and either she or the employer decides to end things?

Unlike my strategic client who is about to celebrate 22 years with a single company, my reactive client may lose her job soon and be looking for a new employer.  Something tells me it might be worth a look at strategic planning as a job skill for HR.


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