4 Ways to Make HR Essential to Your Business
HR is critical to organizational health. Every successful HR leader knows that. But almost everyone outside of HR needs to be constantly reminded of that essential truth. No amount of hollering “Respect me!” is going to help HR turn that corner. You’ve got to take the lead. This requires an essential shift in attitude to being an active player in the long-term business strategy of your enterprise.
Does this mean you must neglect daily deliverables to dedicate your attention to the long-term vision? No. But more to the point, as you focus your attention on the daily deliverables, don’t get so wrapped up in the pressures of the immediate need that you neglect the opportunities to enrich your value for the long run.
“There are always going to be things that happen every day that you have to react to. But the more you can anticipate business needs, the more you position yourself as a business partner – a competitive advantage to your company,” says Maggie Rubey Lynch, SVP, Worldwide Recruitment for Time Warner, Inc.
Approach your HR operation as a business within a business. Your clients are your executives who depend on your suite of resources to accomplish their strategic objectives. No matter where you sit within HR, you are ideally positioned to see beyond the immediate demand for your time, talents, knowledge and attention to identify what will be needed even before your clients know themselves. That’s your advantage to leverage if you aspire to bring full value to your role and your enterprise.
“If you’re not careful, it’s easy to get captured behind the curve and you end up just responding to requests,” says Maggie. “Anticipate new demands so you’ll be ready to deliver on those as well. The more we can understand about our business, and be aligned with the business’s direction, the better positioned we are to work with our executives to take the business there.”
Don’t wait until you declare yourself “caught up” with the current workload before you given yourself permission to cast your focus into the future. You’ll never get there. Budget a certain number of hours in the day or week to study the strategic plans of your business and how they fit into your marketplace. Consider then how those objectives will depend on the talent and strategies delivered by HR. This is your work, too.
Make it a routine practice to dedicate a portion of your internal client meetings to discussing business strategies and brainstorming anticipated needs. You may have to train your business partners to be prepared to take time for these conversations – especially if they have become accustomed to simply issuing requests and mandates, expecting you to fulfill their orders. Recruit their cooperation by explaining your commitment to enhancing HR’s value to your enterprise on a more significant level. With the first emergency avoided, or the first ingenious solution emerging from your department before a crisis hits or a request is issued, they’ll soon see that this is time well-invested.
Be the in-house service that removes roadblocks by knowing what directions your executives will go – often even before they know. The more you know the business and your enterprise’s relative position within your industry, the more you’ll be able to see into the future and clear the way for your leaders to have the talent bench strength in place and operational just as your clients discover that they need those people and skills.
Look for ways to remove your own roadblocks to enhancing your value to the enterprise. Consider all those tasks, duties, obligations, deliverables that pull your focus away from being a strategic partner in the company. What efficiencies can you put into place to lessen that load so that your time and talents are better invested in focusing on the future of your business and its strategic direction?
(Note: This post is adapted from the forthcoming free e-book The HR Yearbook 2012: 25 HR Stars on What’s Essential and Inspiring Right Now. Subscribe now to receive your free copy, as well as the weekly blog posts from HR Career Success!)