I was recently at the SCMA Human Resources meeting, introducing Wisdom Selling Solutions to the various attendees. As I would describe us as a strategy consultant, it was obvious the confusion about exactly why I was there representing Wisdom Selling. Quite frankly, I don’t blame them, given the usual connection of strategy to the business leadership, not Human Resources.
However, the truth is that strategy is intimately connected to manpower, and the ability of a Human Resources team to actively participate in the strategic planning and implementation of the organization can make a world of difference in the success or failure of that organization.
Consider the following. Imagine for a moment the CEO of your company called you into his office and gave you an hour just to tell him your dreams for the future of the workforce. What kind of things would you tell him? Do you even have the time to consider all of the possibilities that talent management and development could bring to the company? How do you get to the point where you can move beyond the constant tug of legal compliance, and move to a contributor of strategy to the organization?
Think about the following business terms and how they translate into HR. Each is key to business strategy, and can be key to HR strategy as well.
Sales – this is a transaction taking place. It is the goal of the business, because if this does not take place, there is no revenue whether the company provides products or services. The sale is a trading of value. What one entity has provides so much potential value to another that they are willing to trade something that has more value to the initial company. For example, I might have a candy bar that cost $0.25 to make, but its value to you is a dollar, so I can sell it on its value and receive the dollar, which I value higher than the candy bar, or I wouldn’t sell it.
Your transactions are many. Ultimately, though, the main transactions are hiring, on-boarding and retaining. Hiring is the sale in that you provide a position to someone who values it highly enough to trade you the value of their experiences capabilities and interests.
Marketing – this is creating the environment for the sale to take place. Simply put, this is finding the persons who might value what you have to offer, presenting the value in a compelling way, and promoting this value to access the people who would want it. Often this is mixed up with advertising and promotions, which is a key element, but marketing is so much more.
You create job descriptions, company websites for hiring, and brochures that tell your story. You place this information where those most likely to fit your needs are known to frequent, and promote the opportunities available within your organization.
Strategy- this is the understanding of who an organization is, and who they want to be. Further, it is what they want to accomplish. Once understood, the plans to reach the destination can be developed and implemented.
As an analogy, consider driving around in your car. At any point, if you don’t know where you are, you are considered lost. Now, many of us drive around looking for landmarks to tell us where we are currently. Others of us will stop and ask for directions. Now, if we don’t know where we are going, any road will get us there. However, if we plan to arrive somewhere, we can use our roadmap to show us the best routes to take. We can use the information on the map to tell us how far away it is, how long it will take, and what milestones we will pass along the way. Nowadays, with GPS, we can even have a voice tell us when to turn.
Strategy works the same way in Human Resources. If you know the state of the workforce, the capabilities, the interests and the level of engagement, you are in a great position to match people up with current and future positions. Information is always going to be king in your world. The more you know about people, their interests and potential, the better you are going to be able to fit them to the appropriate positions and retain the best talent. The better you are able to equip your managers to lead each individual that reports to them the better their leadership can be.
If you are connected to the pulse of the business, you can see more clearly where the people plans need to go. If there is going to be a succession of promotions, what is the plan to backfill, for example. When you know the capabilities of the talent that exists, you can see the gaps that need to be filled over time. You may suggest hiring strategies that don’t make traditional sense because you can see the big picture. You may change the onboarding process because you are hiring more young leaders, and they need to be treated differently to stay.
Obviously, these are broad generalizations, but hopefully they provide you some insight into how valuable strategic thinking can be in your department. I encourage you to find ways to be more efficient in your transactional responsibilities, so that you have time to contribute to the future workforce success in your company.
Wisdom Selling Solutions provides strategy consulting for Business Owners, Executives and key Human Resource Leadership in support of successful strategy implementation. WSS provides information, analysis and tools to help make your job more productive and interesting. Contact us today for a free demonstration of these tools.