The Role of Strategic HR

February 4, 2014

strategic HR

Human Resources is changing. Once relegated to benefits tracking and payroll services, Human Resources (HR) has become a high-quality service provider that plays a trusted advisory, business partner, and consultant role in strategic decision-making. While HR continues to perform the still important transactional functions, HR Business Partners are working with executives and managers to set priorities and guide change for organizations.

This is the first in a series of blog posts on what an HR professional needs to succeed in the new Strategic HR role. The contributors include the editors and contributors to the Handbook for Strategic HR: Best Practices in Organization Development from the OD Network.

What Does Strategic HR Look Like

In order to succeed as an HR Business Partner you need to:

  • Be knowledgeable about the business’ products or services, customers, markets, competitors, business model, performance and financial drivers, human resources, mission, direction, strategy, history, culture, environment, and global influences. If you need to strengthen your knowledge in these areas, try subscribing to your industry magazine and then read it religiously.
  • Know how the business makes and spends its money so you can effectively contribute to the bottom line and organizational sustainability.
  • Understand how to design and implement a total rewards compensation approach to support the behaviors that will meet the needs of customers.
  • Anticipate the company’s future talent needs created by a new business strategy.
  • Know how to partner with senior leadership and management. This means developing collaborative relationships, including understanding interpersonal relations, personality characteristics and styles, and having empathy.

In addition you need to develop foundational Organization Development skills:

  • How to think systemically, see the big picture, understand how individuals, teams, and the organization influence each other, and strategically identify where best to foster change in the organization.
  • How to effect whole systems change, organization design, strategy development, leadership development, team development, organization diagnostics and assessment, coaching, facilitation, organization culture change, and the use of applied behavioral sciences to improve the effectiveness  of human  system dynamics.
  • How to effectively use one’s self as an instrument of change
  • How to put employee engagement to practical use and engage “minds, hearts, and hands” in the important work of the organization
  • How to operate effectively in the global market, cross-cultural situations, and virtual working arrangements

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About The Author

John D. Vogelsang, PhD, is the Editor in Chief of the OD Practitioner, the quarterly journal of the OD Network He has been working for over 34 years in the areas of leadership capacity building, board development, strategic planning, organizational and leadership transitions, conflict transformation, and strategic restructuring. He serves as a coach for executive directors, senior management teams, and boards, and he has facilitated numerous board and staff retreats and executive director peer learning groups. His clients have included foundations, human service agencies, mental health agencies, community health centers, universities, professional associations, arts organizations, and advocacy groups. He is the Dialogue Project Director for the Queens College/CUNY Center for Ethnic, Racial, and Religious Understanding. He is also an Adjunct Associate Professor in the American University MS program in Organization Development. For two years, he was a visiting professor of nonprofit and NGO management and organizational conflict at the School for International Training Graduate Institute.

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