Many experts believe that HR has a holistic perspective on talent alignment to the business strategy. Those who follow the HR space, in fact, know that helping with “business strategy” is arguably the profession’s Holy Grail.
According to two experts in organization transformation at BPI group North America, HR is in a unique position to help leaders understand that how strategy is developed is just as important as what the strategy is. They say HR has the tools, competencies and capabilities to support the organization in bringing the strategy to life.
Silvia Masini, managing director, Organization Transformation & People, BPI group, and Emily Smith, senior manager, Organization Transformation & People, BPI group, shared some thoughts with HR Dive on the five most critical roles today for HR in shaping business strategy.
Ensure alignment around the organization’s vision and values as a solid foundation for strategy
Business leaders sometimes focus so much on strategic planning and day-to-day operations that they can lose sight of the core of the organization – the vision and values. HR, as organization and talent experts, can “re-ground” business leaders in the vision around what the organization’s purpose is and the values that drive people’s motivations and behaviors. HR, in facilitating discussions with the leadership team, can refocus the organization on what’s important and reignite the vision and values.
HR leaders can also play a powerful role by modeling organizational values in their own team’s behavior and actions, which can be especially helpful during the changes that a new strategy creates.
Keep culture top of mind as an enabler of strategy
The best of strategies can be derailed by a dysfunctional culture. A great culture powerfully enables the right strategic vision and plan. Leaders must think carefully about how their organization’s culture aligns and support its strategy.
As the only function with an organization-wide view on employee’s performance and effectiveness, HR is ideally positioned to drive the right conversations about the current culture and how the culture may need to evolve to support the strategy. The most successful HR leaders help leaders and employees alike articulate the desired culture in specific, relatable examples and behaviors.
Help leaders clearly identify and articulate the people components of the strategy
While the organization’s financial goals are often front and center in a top-level strategy, in most organizations, people and talent priorities are equally important. These may include attracting and retaining top talent, developing new core capabilities, or enhancing diversity and inclusion – all of which are driven or supported by HR in some way. HR can ensure that talent and people factors are addressed head-on in the organizational strategy.
The people and talent requirements of the organizational strategy are owned by business leaders and managers, but HR professionals can establish the people requirements and ensure that the organization is set up to successfully execute on those requirements. HR often has access to useful analytics and knowledge around the current and future talent strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and can bring these insights to early stages of strategic discussions.
Build plans to align the organizational “levers” to support the strategy
While the overall strategic objectives and major initiatives are critical, so are the cross-functional plans that support execution of the strategy. In fact, many organizations fail when they don’t have practical, tactical implementation plans that take into account the changes that must occur to align the organization around the strategy.
HR can be an important partner in determining what aspects of the organization will need to be addressed going forward, who will be impacted and how, and what actions will be required to ensure success.
Keep employees engaged around the strategy and other changes ahead
HR is often able to tap into the opinions and feelings of employees across levels, business units, functions and geographies. Engaging employees around the strategy early-on is critical for capturing their hearts and minds in the long-term. With people engaged, the strategy moves from mere words on paper to a blueprint for success.
HR can help solicit employee feedback, ideas, reactions and suggestions about what the strategy should be and how it should be implemented. If there are major changes ahead – such as a restructuring or a new technology implementation – HR also can act as a “change architect:” creating and executing strategies and plans necessary to lead and communicate the change.