Like many HR bloggers, I get questions from the field on the best way to approach issues from time to time. I've never been a Q&A type of guy, instead preferring to go with topical writing on an area that interests me. I still try to answer all the questions to the best of my ability, but rarely post one.
This one's different. I love it when people ask the best way for HR pros to be strategic and aligned with the business, because it tends to get me all cranked up about the difference between buzzwords and action. Here's the question from an HR pro friend of mine over in India:
"Kris - what's the best way for our company to ensure our HR Team is aligned with the business?
Here's the situation - Company grows fast and enjoys huge success and visibility. During happier times everything seems all right, but during challenging times the cracks surface up. There is a visible feel that things are not the same as they were. HR is perceived to be bureaucratic, arrogant and the service response too is wanting. Questioning and introspection begins. HR and business seem to be cross purposes. I am sure all of it sounds extremely familiar.
The HR function, especially the senior management team, now wish to reevaluate if they are measuring the right things as far as their own individual goals are concerned. Jon Ingham has replied in his recent post that we need to look at cascading goals, HR competencies and the 3 levels of the value triangle.
Some top of the mind examples could be typical KPI’s like:
1. Operations Costs of HR
2. Operating Profit per employee
3. Overall employee productivity
4. Employee Satisfaction Score
5. Employee Development Index
6. Employee Motivation Index
All of this will evolve, however for now what I was really looking at was a starting block. What would be the typical measures that a high performing organization should have for its senior HR members?"
Here's the problem - I can tell you that all the factors he's listed above are nice measures, and important on some level to the big picture. None of them by themselves, or perhaps even together, cause HR pros to be aligned with the business. I respect Jon Ingham a lot, so what he covers on this post undoubtedly has truth in it.
Now, I'll simplify it for you. You want alignment with the business? Make sure every HR pro you have on your team, from HR Coordinator to EVP/Darth Vader of HR, is A RECRUITER as part of their job. If you want alignment, there's no better way to get it than to force everyone in the department to recruit for the client group they serve.
Think about what's included in recruiting internally for a hiring manager - needs analysis, market research, performance management expectations, comp analysis, employee relations reviews (why did the last person leave/didn't work out), selling the company, closing the deal, etc. - all while trying to exceed the hiring manager's expectations.
So, if you want alignment, make everyone recruit. It's a humbling experience, and there's no better way to get your HR shop aligned. Now you can say, "but there's so much to do and I need most of my team doing other things"...
It's OK if you say that. Just remember that by saying that, you're really saying you have "process" to create, which is another way to say that you're drifting towards bureaucracy.
If you want alignment, make your HR pros recruit. It's the quickest way to cut through the BS and get to what's real.