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It's an interesting question. If HR wants to play a more strategic role in their organisation, then doesn't it follow that they should have an HR strategy that supports the organisation's strategy?

Only by tangibly contributing to the achievement of the organisation's strategy will HR be perceived as strategic. Yet many HR professionals don't know where to begin.

Here's an overview of the steps you can take to develop and implement an HR strategy that is aligned with and that supports your organisation's strategy.

1. Start by identifying your organisation's top-level goals and priorities. Get to know them well. These need to underpin all your activities going forward.

2. Next, identify the key internal and external drivers and challenges that could impact your organisation's ability to achieve its goals. Think things like: the economy, employment legislation, competitors, availability of skill/expertise, etc.
3. Conduct a gap analysis to identify where your organisation is today with respect to its goals, what it needs to do to achieve them, and the risks it faces if the gaps aren't addressed. For example, if one of the goals is to enter a new market, it may need to acquire new skills, build a new network of vendors, add a new office, etc.

Note: your organisation's executives should have already have done this works. So all you should really need to do is get your hands on it, and familiarise yourself with it. Consider though that your executives may not have considered the "HR" perspective when doing this work – unless of course you were involved in establishing the strategy. You should probably still go through these steps and add to the information using your expertise.

4. Using the information you've gathered in steps 1 through 3, establish your HR strategic goals for the coming year, making sure you link each goal to the organisational goal it will support. You should be asking yourself: what does HR need to do to ensure the organisation achieves its strategic goals? And make sure you make your HR goals are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound). It should be clear how each goal will support the organisation in achieving its strategy and how you will measure success.

5. Now make sure you have the required tactical HR programs in place to support the organisation in achieving its goals. For example, if your organisation will need to hire people with new skills, make sure you have effective sourcing, recruiting, hiring and onboarding processes. Where tactical programs are missing or lacking, put plans in place to address the gap.

6. Measure and communicate HR strategic goals and results. Once you've established your strategic HR goals, you need to communicate these to the organisation, and especially your leadership, then monitor, measure and communicate progress.

By starting with your organisation's strategy, and establishing HR strategic goals in support of it, you can help make your HR function more relevant and strategic.

Sean Conrad is a Certified Human Capital Strategist and senior product analyst at Halogen Software. He helps HR groups become more strategic through the adoption of talent management best practices. You can read more of his insights on making HR more strategic on the Halogen Software blog.