HR’s Role in the New Organization

by Pete Tosh
Founder, The Focus Group

Volumes have been written about the tension between line management and HR. As the story goes, there’s a perpetual disconnect, a misunderstanding of roles and responsibilities for hiring, firing, and basically everything in between. But does the disconnect really exist?

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Perhaps, but recent research by Deloitte University Press indicates that there is considerable agreement among business leaders and HR professionals when it comes to organizational vision. In an introduction to their 2016 Human Capital Trends report, Deloitte researchers make this observation:

To lead (the) shift toward the new organization, CEOs and HR leaders are focused on understanding and creating a shared culture, designing a work environment that engages people, and constructing a new model of leadership and career development.

The Deloitte report describes the development of a “new organization,” technologically enabled and adaptive to a rapidly changing work environment. HR has a key architectural role, as “the steward and designer of new people processes.” In short, business leaders want HR to make visible, meaningful contributions to the business strategy. In turn, HR professionals also must be capable of managing HR processes that have a significant impact on the success of their organization.

Internal Customers or Transactions?

Deloitte’s report envisions HR teams that are engaged with the creation and perpetuation of organizational culture.  They are strategic partners. This is dramatically different from the stereotypical perception of HR as a transaction processing department, unfortunately still held in many organizations. Change can come from within, and HR professionals must make the first step to alter the way they view their responsibility and the way they are viewed within the organization.

A positive initial step involves a shift in focus from transactions to internal customers. As business partners, HR teams become:

  1. Knowledgable – Understanding their customers’ expectations and needs.
  2. Strategic Thinkers – Offering services that are aligned with the expectations of internal customers and the business strategy.
  3. Change-Oriented – Continuously improving HR services for the benefit of their customers.
  4. Technologically Competent – able to adapt to new permutations in the working environment.

A Process for Making the Transition

Making the transition from the traditional HR role to a strategic vision can be difficult and it’s best accomplished with a plan, specifically an HR Internal Service Improvement Process. Components of the process can include customer identification and feedback, standards of performance, service level agreements, and recognition and reward for HR department employees who demonstrate a customer-oriented strategic focus in in their daily interactions.

If you’d like to learn more about creating an HR Internal Service Improvement Process and how HR teams can make the transition to become strategic organizational partners, you’ll want to register for  Georgia Employers’ Association’s  Initiatives for Emerging HR Leaders Series.  The workshops begin on September 28 and include a broad spectrum of topics that will improve your HR skills and keep you up to date with best practices, innovative strategies and proven techniques. Click the link or the image below for more information about the series.


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