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How to Take HR From Administration to Strategy

We've been talking about it for more than twenty years: strategic HRM and HR as a business partner and several studies have shown that organizations that use HRM strategically are more successful. Nevertheless, many HR managers are still busy with administrative and managerial work, and they hardly ever get around to strategy. We explain how to move HR from administration to strategy.

How to Take HR From Administration to Strategy

Tune in to organizational goals

'In order to work strategically, you've to sit at the table with the rest of the management. This means that management must understand the value of the personnel and the function of HRM. Doesn't it do that? Then you've to take care of that yourself. That requires hard work, a well-founded story and sensitivity to your environment. Do you want the other managers to applaud your plans? Then you've to align it with the general organizational goals and goals of the different managers. A line manager is open to HR if it makes his people perform better and makes it easier to achieve his goals and what you offer as HR must be easy to handle by that line manager. He wants no hassle, but ease of use. Focus on that and aim for at least one short-term success. '

'Don't try to placate management with beautiful notes in fluffy language, but show that you can deliver. That way you get your fellow managers and they take you seriously.'

Provide a good foundation

'In our professional field, we often apply the AMO model to staff: ability, motivation and opportunity. These are the preconditions that determine how someone performs and that of course also applies to the HR manager himself. As an organization you can want HR to do more strategic work, but the HR manager must also be able and willing to do it. If someone has been mainly engaged in salaries, contracts and recruitment and selection for twenty years, the transition to a strategic level is quite large.'

'And HR must have the basics in order. You can be strategic, but you also need to have the new employment contracts in order, keep an eye on termination periods and know which courses your organization offers. I once spoke to a director who said that his HR manager was very busy with strategy. Only his desk was a mess. It was full of files and other paperwork. That's not possible.'

Automate traditional HR

HR consists of three parts: transactional, traditional and transformational. By transactional we mean the hours, leave and salaries. With traditional you can think of training, recruitment and selection and performance appraisals. Transformational is about, for example, culture and organizational changes. Then you're at the strategic level and we want that, so we need to automate the first two as much as possible.

'The transactional part is already automated in most organizations, and the traditional is also getting more and more support and that's good, because software can save you a lot of time. For example, with the first selection of a large box of cover letters or videos. After that it'll still be human work, because at some point applicants really want to speak to someone or come and see the organization.'

Dive into the valuable data

'HR departments have a lot of information. For example, about how long employees have been employed, what functions they've had, how they have performed or how high the absenteeism is in a department. This data is extremely useful if you want to be a business partner, specially if you can link that data to the financial-economic performance of organizational units. Fortunately, more and more organizations are getting that. As a result, many organizations that had outsourced their HR will do it themselves again. Logical, because you need that HR data for your policy and if you've to request it every time, it's very time-consuming. In addition, there is a good chance that you'll have to pay before you can access your own data.'

Use the figures as support

'We call researching that HR data people analytics. The purpose of this's to link the data of the personnel to data about the performance of the organization, such as productivity, sales, customer experience. For example, you can investigate which leadership profile works best in the different departments, or how much effect your exchange program has. There are quite a few organizations where employees will work in a different department or in a different country for a while. Nice for those employees. But does it also contribute to an organizational goal? As an HR you can investigate whether the colleagues who have done this also show the most development in their career.'

'Are you not familiar with research techniques, SPSS and Excel? Then hire someone who's and start small: do one or two examinations in the first year. Such studies provide you with two valuable things: you know what the program will yield and it helps you to apply for a budget. After all, you've figures that demonstrate the importance of your program and then you're a business partner with a well-founded story.'

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