Why Strategic HR Matters Now

March 4, 2014

how to be a strategic hr person

What is strategic HR? It means using people, processes and systems to organize for and execute on an organization’s strategic HR process. It involves acquiring, developing, positioning, and aligning the right talent for the current and future needs of the organization and creating a workplace in which the people can perform at their best, work together synergistically, trust in the organization, its leadership and each other and have freedom from bias, discrimination and oppression. It also means thinking strategically about external changes and their impact on the organization by joining with other functional executives in assessing specific implications and bringing a human capital and organization effectiveness lens to the dialogue. It requires simultaneously considering people and organization to develop and align capabilities with strategic needs.

Why Is HR Even More Important Today?

Strategic and competitive advantages of organizations have moved from physical plant, locations, control of needed resources (natural, environmental, political, etc.), financial resources and unique technology to talent and how they work together to perform more, better or faster. More virtual work, more equal access to financial resources, technology, plant and equipment has leveled the old playing field and created a new one involving more knowledge and service work with a greater reliance on talent for results. So today, many organizations are creating their differentiation through people, processes, design, and capabilities. All of this raises the importance of what traditionally falls under HR and what now needs to integrate with HR to be successful. HR and Organizational Development/Effectiveness need to align in creating and delivering on both the talent front and on the healthy, high, performing organization front.

More work today requires teams to function well in order to integrate across disciplines, share knowledge and manage complex situations. Many of these teams operate virtually in our globalized society. How to form, develop and lead high performing teams doesn’t just come naturally, but HR/OD professionals are becoming more equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to build team-based organizations and align processes, systems and HR practices to support them. Team development and leadership are moving up the strategic priority list.

Similarly, how we source, attract, reward, engage and retain the changing, mixed-demographic, multi-cultural workforce is critical to our having the talent needed and involves raising the bar on all the HR functions to deliver, coordinate and collaborate. Understanding and connecting to the “business” of any organization is essential in delivering on talent needs and organization alignments.

Finally, today we require HR/OD to partner in leadership to bring value into strategic vision and execution, human capital perspectives alongside of financial, technical and marketing perspectives in decision-making and enhancing collaborative integrations across functions, disciplines and levels  to innovate and problem-solve in complex environments. These roles are not historic in most organizations and require a different mix of competencies and mindsets–bringing something that is valued in partnership relations. We’ll talk more about this aspect in the future.

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About The Author

David W. Jamieson, PhD, is Professor & Department Chair, Organization Learning & Development, College of Education, Leadership & Counseling at the University of St. Thomas. He is also President of the Jamieson Consulting Group, Inc. and a Distinguished Visiting Scholar in other OD programs. He has 40 years of experience consulting to organizations on leadership, change, strategy, design and human resource issues. He is a Past National President of the American Society for Training and Development (1984) and Past Chair of the Management Consultation Division and Practice Theme Committee of the Academy of Management. He was the recent recipient of The Lifetime Achievement Award from the Organization Development Network and Chairs the Organization Development Education Association. He received his Ph.D in Management from UCLA, majoring in Organization Design & Development and a BS in Business Administration from Drexel University, with a Behavioral Science minor. He is co-author of The Facilitator's Fieldbook, co-author of Consultation for Organizational Change, and one of the editors of Handbook for Strategic HR: Best Practices in Organizational Development from the OD Network. He can be reached at

One Comment »

  1. avatar

    The three most essential business resources – i.e. knowledge, talent and time – come in “people packages”.

    Integrated (strategic) talent management establishes the foundation and force field for all business initiative and performance.

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