Is Human Resources Ready for the “Big Table?”

2013 is supposed to be the year human resources get a seat at the “big table,” becoming a strategic business partner.

But is your HR ready for the challenge?

Society for Human Resource Management

When thinking about the future, many human resources professionals say  in 2013, HR will finally have a place at “the big table.”

This means human resources will take a larger part in the business strategy of an organization.

Are your human resources pros ready to step up to the plate? Are they prepared to become a “strategic partner?”

The truth is many human resources managers are not particularly interested in a “bigger picture.” That could make their inclusion in overall business strategy a little problematic.

This is not to say that HR is ill-equipped face the challenges of business. In fact, there are many in human resources who are eminently qualified to advance to the boardroom. It is just that their attention can be, at times, somewhat narrow.

Indeed, human resources must wear several, extremely valuable hats.  They have the monumental task of utilizing and developing talent; monitoring workplace issues and compliance keeping the company on the right side of the law and so much more. These are not jobs not taken lightly.

Human Resources: Free live ovation demoHowever, with all things human resources departments must do, primary business may not be the highest on the list.

According to a survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), a decreasing number of HR professionals today have education beyond a bachelor’s degree than in 1990.

In addition, the survey asked HR professionals about which academic courses helped a “successful career” in human resources:

  • Eighty-three percent say classes in interpersonal communications skills have “extremely high value.”
  • Employment law—71%
  • Business ethics—66%
  • Change management” is worthwhile to only 35%
  •  “Strategic management” was even lower, at 32%
  • At the bottom is Finance,  at just 2%

As the guardians of a company’s talent, HR must learn how the people they observe serve the corporate objectives. Business acumen seems to be one component lacking in today’s HR professionals.

To see if your human resources department is ready to be included in corporate strategy, every HR pro should answer three principal business questions.  For those human resources specialists who want a bigger role in making their companies more successful, the answers could be tremendously enlightening:

  • Who is the primary customer of your company?

How often have human resources interacted with customers? Why type of person does business with your company? Every employee should know how their job—especially human resources—affects the customer experience. You cannot do that if you do not know who the customer is.

  • Who is your competition in the marketplace?

A successful businessperson knows the competition, what do they do well and what are their weaknesses.

  • As a company, who are we?

Human resources (as well as every employee) should have a realistic estimate of what the company does best and what needs improvement. They should have a sense of a company’s strategy to increase business, increase the customer base and differentiate themselves from the competition.

ovation tech blogHuman resources today needs to get unstuck. They have a singular place in the company, to discover things about the business through a point of view of the organization’s people and talent. They do have an opportunity to yield valuable insights to senior management.

With too narrow a perspective, human resources could ruin this big chance to sit at the “big table.” Now is the time to change that.

What do you think is important to help human resources ready to be a part of business strategy? We want to know! Join the conversation in the comments below.

Published by @philammann

Put. That coffee. Down. Writer/editor/whatever it takes. @margaretj13 is my (much) better half. Website: Email: Twitter: @PhilAmmann

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