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HR professionals who are part of strategy or business conversations should move beyond making basic contributions to recruitment, compensation and training policies and seek to add additional business value by designing and delivering better practices to achieve improved HR outcomes.
David Ulrich, professor at University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, examines how HR practitioners can contribute to strategic discussions—such as emerging markets, managing costs or increasing innovation—by defining clear outcomes in three areas: individuals, organizations and leadership.
To devise a successful business strategy, organizations need the right capabilities, productive people and shared leadership. During discussions on emerging markets, cost or innovation, HR professionals can focus on asking these essential questions:
Individual: What talent or human capital do we need to make this strategy successful?
Organization: What organizational capabilities do we need to make this strategy happen?
Leadership: What do our leaders need to be good at to make this strategy happen?
Once these targets or outcomes have been defined, HR practices can be designed and delivered to accomplish them.
Following are some insights for each of the three targets of HR:
Individual ability (talent or human capital): Talent includes competence, commitment and contribution. Competent individuals have the knowledge, skills and values required for their jobs. Committed people work hard and perform their roles to the best of their abilities. Contribution occurs when employees feel their personal needs are being met through their participation in the organization. HR leaders can engage their general managers to identify and improve each of these three dimensions to increase individual ability and productivity.
Organization capability (culture): Talented individuals who cannot work well in a team cannot be successful. HR misses the opportunity to make a sustainable impact by not paying attention to teamwork, and workplace processes and culture. In the future, HR professionals participating in business discussions will need to offer insights on organizations, as well as individuals.
Leadership brand: Leaders are individuals who have unique abilities to guide the behavior of others. Leadership refers to an organization’s capacity to build future leaders. An individual leader matters, but an organization’s leadership matters more over time. HR professionals need to not only help existing leaders become more effective through coaching, 360-degree feedback and individual development plans, but also help build leadership depth by investing in leadership development.
In the future, the targets or outcomes of HR practitioners should include individuals, organizations and leadership. Some insights on each of these three areas include:
Individual ability: All three concepts—competence, commitment and contribution—will need to be managed together. Competence definitions should focus less on the individual’s skills and more on how these skills match the requirements of the position.
Organization capability: HR needs to help build organizational capabilities such as risk management, social responsibility, simplicity, connection and innovation to succeed in the future.
Leadership brand: HR professionals need to build the business case for leadership, define its effectiveness, assess leaders, and invest in and measure leadership contributions.
July 26, 2013
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