Bringing HR Strategy to Life
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Bringing HR Strategy to Life

Andrea Collins, HR Director, ANZ Goodyear and Dunlop Tyres
Andrea Collins, HR Director, ANZ Goodyear and Dunlop Tyres

Andrea Collins, HR Director, ANZ Goodyear and Dunlop Tyres

Have you ever wondered why some of the best HR strategies never seem to materialize? A number of factors will determine whether the HR function can develop and execute a strategy that turns the dial. More than ever before in our resourceconstrained post COVID ‘new normal’ HR have a seat at the Executive table. The pressure is no longer on getting that seat, but rather to deliver a strategy that builds capability, engagement, performance and retention that helps to drive business results.

So where to start?

Understand the business and its maturity. Some businesses have been around forever yet they are not ready for contemporary HR practices. The first step is to understand the business strategy; is it a growth strategy, if so will the growth be organic or via acquisition? Is the market segment very mature, likely to plateau, divest, or diversify? What is the culture of the business? Are the leaders truly ready to lead in these new times or is there some foundational work to be done to get the organisation ready?

Once you have a good handle on the business direction, ask the following questions:

•  What is our capability today?

•   What skills and attributes do we have and need for future success and where are our gaps?

•   Can the gaps be filled through investment in development and training, or will we have to buy them?

Communicating the plan in plain terms that ties it directly to business outcomes is critical if you want buy-in

Getting deep answers to these questions will allow you to look at the whole employee lifecycle and determine where your energy and focus needs to be invested. Too often we aim for the ‘perfect’ strategy, forgetting that it takes time for change to embed and that organisations and their people have limits as to how much change they can embrace. So rather than ‘boiling the ocean’, select one or two key areas (either strategic or capability building) that will make a positive impact. Getting some early wins will increase the credibility of the HR function and have your stakeholders asking for more.

Partner with the Business

There are views about HR being purely a ‘service’ function but in fact Business Partnering is much more. Partners don’t just aim to please, they review data and business plans and challenge the business around blind spots. To be a successful HR Leader and Business Partner, you need to be willing to get into some of the detail, work alongside business leaders in order to truly develop a strategy that is on point.

Get the foundations right

Sometimes we get carried away with the ‘cool’ HR stuff that we know will make a difference at the expense of checking whether the basics are in place and solid. Are your processes clunky? Is your team approachable and do they have an enabling/partnering mindset? Are your fundamentals working as they should (payroll, onboarding/offboarding)? It’s important to get these right before you can tackle any strategic initiative. Get alignment As an HR leader, you need to be working hand in glove with your Executive team. Once you’ve developed your strategy, ensure that your Executive team understand it, how it will drive business performance and ensure they are signed up. After all they will be critical in the execution of many of the programs your put in place. Think about Piloting If you’re experiencing change resistance or just want to validate that a particular initiative will work, think about piloting it. Taking some time upfront to finesse, review and adjust your plan based on lessons learnt can save you a lot of time and heartache later. Successful pilots create instant advocates for you and pave the way for more skeptical stakeholders. Piloting can make you more agile and allow you to iterate in a timely way prior to going out to the business.

Communicate the Why – Multiple times

Just because you and your team are close to the plan and can see the impact it will bring doesn’t mean everyone will be on board. Communicating the plan in plain terms that ties it directly to business outcomes is critical if you want buy-in. Avoid using “HR speak” where you can. Seek to win hearts and minds. Explaining the ‘why’ early and repeatedly will help everyone to stay on point. This is where change management capability is critical for HR leaders and teams.

Measure your Success

What are the metrics by which you will measure the success of your strategy? These will vary greatly depending on the initiatives you undertake. It is possible to set SMART goals for the HR function beyond delivery times and training feedback forms. Some examples include increasing the quality of new hires, engagement scores, reduction in turnover, culture surveys, industry benchmarking and much more.

Revise and update

Businesses move at pace and HR must keep up to stay relevant. Regularly review the plan alongside changing business conditions and be willing to pivot as necessary. Be honest about what works and what isn’t working. Remember that what might be best practice in one workplace may not be appropriate for your workplace at this point in time. Trust your instincts and your metrics, be patient and agile and watch the impact you will make to your organisation.

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