Leveraging the Human Resources Function

By Bob Corbett

The Human Resources (HR) function has evolved over the years from timekeepers and payroll clerks, to keepers of the policy manual, to recruiters, trainers and employee relations specialists. Today, many human resources practitioners are certified professionals who serve as business partners and consultants.

If this is the status that you enjoy as a HR professional in your organization, then congratulations and continue to challenge yourself to learn new things. Also, continue to think like a line manager and thoughtfully apply your HR expertise to creatively solve business challenges.

If not, then consider the following suggestions to increase your fun quotient on the job while enhancing your image and credibility.

First, ensure that you understand your organization’s business including, its strategy, its structure and decision making processes; its operations and business drivers; and the values and beliefs that influence employee actions and interactions.

Undoubtedly you already know a lot of this but a review will enable you to consultatively help customers resolve the HR implications associated with the business challenges facing the organization. At the very least, you’ll learn new tactics that can help you better focus your HR services and meet customer needs.

Second, be proactive and identify business-partnering opportunities that are of value to your customers. Identify the goals that they are seeking to achieve and the challenges they face in achieving them. Identify the HR leverage opportunities, i.e., the HR implications and solution opportunities, associated with those goals and challenges.

Third, leverage your HR capabilities by identifying three to four achievable goals and actions of value to your customers that you will pursue.

Fourth, get sponsorship, i.e., commitment, from your customers and your management to pursue the goals and actions associated with the HR leverage opportunities including, a discussion of the resources required.

Fifth, tenaciously pursue the agreed upon goals and actions and regularly solicit, measure, track and communicate progress. If course corrections are required discuss them with the sponsors and modify your HR leverage goals and actions as needed.

Sixth, celebrate your success with your sponsors and participating teams.

The primary benefits to you in taking this approach will be changing the way you add value, learning to think consultatively vs. administratively, creating more enjoyment in the work you perform, elevating the perception of the HR function from staff contributor to line partner, as well as, changing your personal image and credibility in the eyes of your customers as a value added business partner and consultative resource.