Strategic HR



As the new Vice President of Human Resources for the Society for Human Resource Management, I am proud to launch the first installment of a bi-monthly social media column that I’ve titled Strategic HR! First and foremost, it’s my hope that this will become a very candid and interactive forum, rather than a one-way conversation where I simply post some of my philosophies.  I invite all stakeholders within our community to engage in a lively debate of opinions from all corners of the employment spectrum.  While I will respond to many of the conversations the real value of this column will come from your interaction with each other.  So, sharpen those critical thinking skills and prepare to engage as all that I ask is that all entries are civil and professional. 

Why the title Strategic HR?  Well, in my opinion, our profession has not received the credit which it is due. I am referring to the difference between the antiquated concept of the old Personnel Office in our organizations of the last century, versus the more functional, effective, and comprehensive role of human resources evolving today. In the historical context the sole purpose of those working in the Personnel Office was reactionary and transactional in nature. The focus was on processing paper and interacting primarily with individuals either entering or leaving the workforce of the organization. This dedicated group of employees considered themselves, and were considered by the organization, to be perfunctory players in a sidelines game with little impact on the operating results of the entity for which they worked. But the times, and the responsibilities of the human resources department, in modern organizations have changed!

The role of today’s Human Resources Department is slowly moving from one of a transactional and processing nature to that of a vital strategic partner in all facets of the management of the entity. The senior ranks of management of many organizations contain at least one member with a top management title and responsibilities, and HR employees are actively partnering with those at all levels to effect strategic operating results on a regular basis. One of the many positive outcomes of this shift in functions is the development of a clearly identified continuum of responsibilities, duties, and tasks for every organizational employee tying directly into the strategic plan, and which are embodied in every Job Description, Standards of Performance document, and then finally in every organizational Performance Evaluation Instrument. The emphasis now is clearly on strategic performance at the individual employee level. This system of comprehensive strategic performance optimization will be the topic of our next column installment right here.

The world is changing rapidly, and the role and functions of the HR department are changing dramatically, but more slowly. I would like to hear from you in the form of responses to my portrayal of these changes. Are they good for employees as well as for the organizations? Where is your organization in this trend of HR transformation? And should there be changes in addition to the ones I have mentioned here? Share some of your best practices with us. The forum is open for your opinions.

Now- Look forward to hearing from you! 

Bettina Deynes




The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.


I can fully agree with your perspective of Personnel to Human Resources. Paper pusher to strategic thinker / partner. As an international HR professional I was first introduced to the term old wine in new bottles in the late 90’s. Since then I have worked studiously with many top UK organizations to change the face of HR to be the first face of the organization.
In essence it is a rebranding of the old department to play a more strategic and analytical role. Partnering is first and foremost focusing on strategic business goals and mission, whilst delivering a joint up and cost effective service.
Staff are seen and valued more highly, knowing that their output is evaluated on a performance related basis, but this instills pride, ethics and value for all concerned. Results are measured through performance of the individual, team and department enabling a top down bottom up process. Strategically, no longer is it the responsibility of the individual to carry out their role, but the job of the whole department to carry out and deliver above stated objectives.
In the UK many organizations have a development initiative called Investors in People which deals with key developmental activities of HR, interlinked throughout the organizations. In essence the Mission statement interacts with the HR and Learning Strategy which dictate how the organization will achieve its set aim and objectives. The HR Strategy is then filtered through and links with each departmental plan, linking team and individual performance together. So the ultimate relationship here is strategy and performance all the way through job descriptions, competences, one to ones and evaluations. Should the chain break then performance is taken in hand at the breakage.
Such mechanisms are used as developmental tools, but also allow for creative and autonomous working, enabling development, freedom of delivery but adherence to delivery deadlines. A very good strategic tool in my view.

The Term strategic is extremely important, because it is the mechanism by which you align people with organizational objectives.

Hello, and apologies for not responding to your post earlier! We had some issues with the new site, but they are fixed now.

Your comments are right on target with the theme of my post, as well as the next several posts! What I am wondering is why I don't see mush more of the common sense approach to HR strategy in organizations? I sure would like for you to continue to post responses to my columns to help me and others effectively deal with this concept.

See you here soon, hopefully!


Hello --

Absolutely! And that is why we can't just treat it like a "buzzword" as has been the case with so many other useful concepts in the past. I invite you to continue to post responses to my future columns, your opinion is very valuable to me and to all of us seeking improvement!

Take care --


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