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People provide the competitive advantage

When you go to a doctor the chances are it is to talk about health issues. When you go to a car mechanic it is normally to get your car fixed. When you go shopping you are on the lookout for some good bargains to buy. When people come to HR they are looking for ……? So what does HR do, what does it offer and more importantly are we offering the right stuff?

Carrying on from the earlier blog on the need for HR to be results driven it is our view at CourageousHR that unless or until HR is able to demonstrate a clear purpose and is able to demonstrate the value it brings to organisational success, HR will always be playing catch-up and trying to please the big bosses rather than being partners.

In a nutshell, Results Driven means HR being constantly on the lookout for ways to enhance organisational performance through people. Couldn’t be simpler in theory but as anyone who has been in HR for longer than an hour knows it is so much more difficult to put into practice.

Results are about quality not quantity

From our research it seems the best HR Professionals don’t actually find being results driven too difficult. Why? Because, as we’ve highlighted previously, the power of HR’s proposition is down to the quality of the people it employs rather than any structural, operational or technology initiatives.
Quality HR Professionals recognise that it is people who provide the competitive advantage for their organisation and are motivated to work with the business to ensure their HR strategies and solutions are about maximising organisational results. In other words, they provide HR solutions which are led by the business need and informed by ‘great-HR-practices’.

What we have found from working with hundreds of HR Partners and HR Leaders from all sectors and geographies is that the best have a good enough awareness of the main organisational drivers (without feeling the need to be business experts) and with these insights are able to actively and continuously shape their HR offering. They are able to achieve this by working closely with their leadership team, understanding the organisations immediate and emerging needs and how these may impact both on the people and HR. In other words, whilst they may have in place some great HR metrics and a Balanced Score Card, the reality is the hard work has already been done as they are providing a committed and transparent service, which clearly demonstrates the business linkages and values.

Research shows that what gets measured gets done – absolutely. But don’t fall into the trap of creating a mini department within HR which sets, measures, collates and communicates a whole bunch of HR measurements which no one ever reads, actions or even cares about. Instead, focus your effort and energy on creating quality relationships with business leaders so you not only know what they think they need from HR but more importantly you can shape their thinking so they actually end up getting what you know they really need from HR.

Be clear what you are measuring and why!

Be careful what you measure! Too often HR falls into the trap of going for easy measures rather than meaningful ones which can result in the focus being too short-term, too narrow or just wrong. It is also not unheard of that results can excuse driving inappropriate behaviour e.g. winning at any cost.

Think for a moment about your organisational culture – is it possible to have true partnerships if the overriding organisational culture focuses on internal competition and externally winning at any cost?

Finally, it is also important to be aware that the over use of metrics can make people feel like ‘cogs in the machine’: So,

  • How are metrics presently used in your HR Community?
  • How strategic are they?
  • How, if at all, are the metrics linked (e.g. Business, People, Function and Personal)?
  • Who sets the measurement?
  • How effective are your metrics in delivering organisational results?
  • How do metrics impact on your influential players e.g. high potentials?
  • What is your role in setting and monitoring these measurements?

But when you get the metrics right they drive results and provide real value as they can link the:

  • Employee’s Return On Investment with the Employee’s Life Cycle and Performance Management
  • Assist managers to managing based on pre-agreed success indicators
  • Helps leaders to lead based on defining strategy in operational terms (e.g. links strategy and people, quantifies the vision, articulates expectations).

So, during your hectic work schedule don’t fall into the trap of focusing on quantity at the expense of quality. Increasingly, people are becoming the prime competitive advantage for any organisation and therefore the better able HR is in focusing on strategic outcomes and is able to orient itself towards organisational excellence the greater chance it will have of delivering great results for the business.

To find out how CourageousHR can support the development of your HR Function please email [email protected] to arrange a call to discuss your specific development needs.