Wednesday, January 22, 2014

5 Lessons Learned in Becoming an Effective HR Business Leader

Over the last year my colleagues Ed Nangle and Charlette Stout and I have had the PLEASURE of teaching an awesome 1.5 day workshop called, "Moving HR from Transactional to Strategic: Becoming an Effective HR Business Leader." Over this year we have taught approximately 300+ attendees on how they can navigate a change in their HR model, HR services and HR brand using a strategic approach. It has been very rewarding and given us a new sense of pride for our profession.

Like all good learning environments, we have learned a ton of lessons from those same attendees and clients alike about what works and what doesn't during this HR transition.  Some industries adopted a business partner model early on, and others like healthcare and education are just now embarking on this journey.  Timing is not important, making HR relevant and impactful is the end goal.

Here are some lessons we have observed and learned over the past year regarding making a successful transition from a transactional HR environment to one that drives business results:

  1. You have to have your HR transactional house in order.  In other words if you can't get transactions right and on time, you lose credibility.  In order to BE strategic and have your voice heard you have to have CREDIBILITY.  
  2. Culture does matter and it does eat strategy for breakfast (or whatever that saying is).  If you have a culture that is paternalistic or doesn't value accountability…fix that first.
  3. Senior leadership support is critical.  Enough said. 
  4. If you are going make the decision to outsource, insource or centralize the transactional work, make sure you communicate the "why this is better" and "market" who is doing what.  Also, make sure follow your own rules.  (#1 still applies no matter who does the work)
  5. Make the hard decisions within HR regarding skill sets.  If different competencies are needed either close those gaps are hire new ones.  Its hard to be strategic and business focused without the needed competencies.  
There are definitely more than just five lessons, but these are the ones we hear the most.  I also believe that HR is embarking on an era of impact and influence.  It's about HR LEADERSHIP.  It's about being a business person first and foremost and an HR expert second.  

Tell us about your journey and what lessons you have learned along the way.