5 Ways HR Can Be More Strategic to the Business

One often overlooked aspect of the senior HR role is the question of how to elevate the position to be on par with leadership and equivalently tasked with transforming the business? 

Putting all other HR tasks aside for a moment, let’s look at why are we here. We exist to accelerate our client’s business goals. We're responsible for making sure we're partnering with leadership to help solve business challenges. We're helping to lead employees, change the organizational culture, get workers engaged and appropriately trained.

As a self-described sector head, if I'm looking at my peer group, how am I understanding their business challenges? How do I get a seat at the table and contribute to what they're trying to accomplish? Once I understand the root causes and concerns, I know what my counterparts are trying to achieve personally, professionally, and financially.

It's important for HR leaders to build the relationships of trust with their business clients and understand the real root causes of what they're trying to accomplish. What are their top two or three key business challenges? And from there, how are we as HR leaders going to help accomplish that? That could involve being a thought-partner in terms of strategy and/or design.

Old school HR says to leadership, “Hey Tom, I'm going to provide certain services to you." New school will say, “Hey Tom, what are you trying to accomplish in your role as sector head of your department?"

Looking at the overall HR organization, how do we bring teams together as one HR unit and be client focused to address key business challenges? Versus, "Hey, I do recruiting. I'm going to suggest these candidates.” “Hey, I do employee relations, I'll plan these events." This way of thinking can grow to become a very siloed, inside-out approach. Real business partnering is structured from the outside in, where we start foremost by aligning with the organization’s goals and objectives.

HR Leaders Poised to Provide Value

Below are five ways HR leaders can justify and enhance their current position as recognized value-contributors to the organization by becoming—and remaining—strategic.


  1. Focus on the business and align with business objectives. HR leaders need to demand they are part of their organizations’ management team and its strategic planning efforts. Spend time with one-on-ones with your leaders, your senior level counterparts and C-suite personnel.


  1. Connect/collaborate with other business leaders. HR leaders don’t operate in a vacuum, or a silo. They must partner with other key leaders in the organization, most notably in finance, IT, and marketing. Together their efforts ensure that companies are making cost-effective decisions related to talent management, that they’re providing employees with the tools and resources they need to remain productive, and that they’re positioning the organization as employers of choice.


  1. Stay on top of the latest trends. It’s important for HR leaders to continually monitor what’s happening internally and externally and to remain alert to how these shifts can impact the business. What are some of the latest tools and systems people are using? Be alert to technological changes and advances, shifts in availability of certain types of professionals or skills, and the competitive environment for employees.


  1. Emphasize data and people analytics. Data drives most decisions today across all types of job roles. HR is no exception and, in fact, the need for analytics capabilities among HR professionals continues to rise. With today’s technology, HR leaders have the opportunity to use data to make accurate predictions related to turnover risk, to identify employees with the potential to move into higher-level positions, to improve the employee experience, and more.


  1. Identify and communicate bottom-line impacts of HR-related efforts. HR leaders can’t just work quietly behind the scenes. They need to ensure that leaders know the valuable work they do contributing to the bottom-line. Measuring, monitoring, and communicating the impact of these efforts is critical to ensure HR efforts are recognized.

For HR leadership to succeed, spend time with your key business counterparts having empathy for what's transpiring in the organization. Know the key issues driving the C-suite, communicate regularly and build those relationships. Discuss strategy, leadership, HR delivery, and how we show up as a team and work together as thought partners.

About the Author

Ani Banerjee is Chief Human Resources Officer for KnowBe4, provider of the world's largest security awareness training and simulated phishing platform used by more than 52,000 organizations. Banerjee oversees HR operations across 11 countries, and is responsible for developing new initiatives to enhance the company's organizational culture, recruitment channels, and diversity, inclusion, and equity (DIE) strategies. He has 30 years' experience in global HR leadership roles working for Dell, Yahoo, AOL, and VMware. https://www.linkedin.com/in/ani-banerjee-3319715/



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