Month: March 2015

The Critical Role of Human Resources in Strategy

By: Janet Hayes and Darren Hayes

A common problem faced by many companies today is the lack of involvement of Human Resources in formulating new strategies for a company in the process of transforming itself. HR departments may not get much respect if they are viewed as “feelers” who function only as administrators, so they may not be asked to the table when the company’s executive team is developing a new strategic direction.

The fact is that everything in a business is done through people. In order to get your employee base properly acclimated to any new strategic changes, HR’s involvement is an absolute necessity. People at all levels in the organization need motivation and some degree of counsel in order to adjust properly and quickly to critical changes.
To achieve the best results, companies should consider the following when developing or updating strategies:

1. The company’s leader (CEO or President) should ensure that the head of Human Resources is engaged in the strategy development process. In particular, the executive strategy team should look to the HR head to provide input on how the new strategy affects culture, compensation, structure and competencies and how the strategy should be communicated to the organization. The executive team should be counseled to value HR’s “feeler” perspective since employees’ reaction to the strategic change must be considered when planning implementation.

2. The HR representative must demonstrate the ability to think strategically and ensure that he or she is properly informed about the business in order to be involved in executive strategy meetings. If the HR representative has the means and ability to contribute, then his or her presence will be welcomed.

Consider this issue in relation to the Orchestra Model©: if the Conductors (executive team) decide to have a change in the score (strategy) it is necessary for the HR representatives (concertmasters) to not only pass out the score to the musicians (employee base) but to also be able to explain how each part is played. Being able to adjust who plays what parts and with what instruments lies more on the end of the HR reps who would be more familiar with individual employees and their strengths and weaknesses. In short: harmony can only be achieved if everyone plays their parts AND plays them together, and HR is critical to ensure a great performance.

HR holds the key to a good performance!

HR holds the key to a good performance!

Communicating like Mister Rogers

In Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood the “neighbors” enjoyed listening to one of television’s great communicators. The relaxed appearance and soothing voice of the host, Fred Rogers, was comforting. Watching was pleasant and learning came naturally. That relaxed stage atmosphere however, did not extend beyond the stage. Behind the stage Mr. Rogers was driven by purpose. He became involved in television because of his dissatisfaction with how it was being used to communicate with his intended audience, children. Mr. Rogers’ strategy was to use television as a tool to educate, encourage, and enlighten children in a fashion they could comfortably comprehend. He realized that if the message was communicated effectively, the audience would be more likely to embrace it. There may be a lesson here for those of us in business.

In any organization it is the responsibility of the leader to define strategy. That strategy may be labeled “vision”, or “goal”, or simply called “the plan”. Once the strategy is defined, the leader must communicate it to others in a fashion that is both easily understood and commonly embraced. Here’s where the wisdom of Mister Rogers comes in; that communication is difficult.

Exceptional leaders understand that paying attention to the “personal” traits of people in an organization is the key to ongoing business success. Mr. Rogers understood that when it comes to “personal” we are all different. In the book Life’s Journeys According to Mister Rogers he is quoted as saying, “We all have different gifts, so we all have different ways of saying to the world who we are”. Communication, training, guidance, understanding and recognition on a personal level are all essential workplace components in order to ensure the successful alignment of organizational resources (people) with strategy.

When resources are correctly aligned with strategy, organizations become more proactive and effective. People will embrace the strategy and accept the change needed to accomplish it when they understand the need.

Once again Mr. Rogers shows us the way. In the same book referenced above, Mr. Rogers explained his view that, “How our words are understood doesn’t depend just on how we express our ideas. It also depends on how someone receives what we’re saying. I think the most important part of communicating is the listening we do beforehand. When we can truly respect what someone brings to what we’re offering, it makes the communication all the more powerful.” When leaders create an organizational culture that cultivates tolerance, is open to explanation, appreciates the importance of listening, and promotes mutual respect they “set the stage” for success. People respond positively and introduce more creativity into their jobs, paving the way for the realization of strategic goals.
Alignment is the neighborly thing to do!

Effective communication leads to collaboration, the key to success in any organization. When everyone in an organization shares a common understanding of the organizational direction, a culture of mutual support develops. When that happens the organizational energy level increases dramatically, as does the ability to create the future envisioned by leadership. Quoting again from Life’s Journeys According to Mister Rogers, “Anyone who has been able to sustain good work has had at least one person-and often many-who have believed in him or her. We just don’t get to be competent human beings without a lot of different investments from others.” An organization simply cannot be effective without the willing collaboration and combined support of each person; and each person is made more effective by the purposeful support of the entire organization.

Keith Williamson:

Keith Williamson:

Playing together not only sounds better, it feels better too.

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