Two Things HR Professionals Must Do Worldwide

It’s always interesting to hear how the people management profession differs worldwide. Workplace laws, business culture and social mores vary country by country. What works in one nation, industry or even company, may not work in another because when it comes to managing people—the most complex but critical aspect of business—there is no one-size-fits all approach.

Still, some keys to HR’s success are universal.

This was our thinking at SHRM when we developed the SHRM Competency Model. Through extensive global research, we set out to codify exactly what it takes to succeed and grow in HR today—at every career level, in every industry, across the world.

After attending a recent meeting of the World Federation of People Management Associations (WFPMA) in Paris, I’m even more convinced we got it right. There were 17 countries represented on a panel of CEOs and CHROs of multinational corporations, discussing the strategic success of their varied human resources practices. But, at the end of the day, these leaders all agreed on two things people management professionals must do, the world over, to be effective.

#1:  Know the Business

The first key to HR success identified by these leaders was to know the business. Know what drives the bottom line. Whether you work in a nonprofit in the U.S. or a technology company in India, you must understand your organization’s strategy, its vision for the future and the plan it has in place to get there. Business acumen—being able to understand and apply information to contribute to your organization’s strategic plan—is a core HR competency. It will empower you to add even greater value in your role.

#2:  Start with Business Goals, Then Build the People Strategy

According to the panel, once you have this critical business insight, it is then you should design your people strategy. What’s your organization’s end game? To move into a new market? Launch a different product? Deliver better service? Determine the answer to these and other questions about the business first, and then ensure your people strategies are in line with them. HR solutions we propose should directly address needs and challenges within our organizations.

HR is now global, just like business, and everything from the way we recruit to the way we engage employees can vary from one place to another. It’s reassuring to know that, no matter where we work or practice, there are two things HR can do that won’t fail us: Know our business; and align our people strategies with our organization’s goals.

It’s a very simple strategy to make it in a very complex world.




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