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How can HR link business objectives to HR deliverables?

Posted on from CourageousHR Ltd

HR, like any other part of an organisation, can be measured and objectively judged. So, if you are looking to create a good and lasting impression with your business leaders, how can you create a strong link between your HR deliverables and the strategic business objectives?

HR's contribution to business strategy

HR has an unenviable role in supporting leaders shape the business strategy because HR professionals have unique insights which they can apply at the planning, developing and implementing stages. 

During the planning phase of a business strategy, HR has access to unique data in the form of competitor knowledge (based on recruitment, compensation analysis and sharing data with fellow HR professionals in the industry and third party recruiters); insight into the overall capability of the existing workforce (based on development and training plans); it has access to all parts of the organisation and so is able to perceive the inter-relationships, strengths and weaknesses.

When supporting the business during the development phase, HR can call on its technical knowledge of change management (very often HR professionals are seen as ‘change experts’. HR understands the importance of the foundations of strategy, values and culture, it has experience of how to use engagement ‘levers’ e.g. reward, recognition, group dynamics; finally, HR understand the regulatory, cultural and marketplace risks.

Supporting the business to implement its strategy should be where you excel most as HR is technically proficient in supporting the implementation process while as the same time differentiating between ‘people’ and ‘HR’ strategy. Without HR who would do the recruiting, developing and exiting appropriate employees?

HR's contribution to the People Strategy

Once business strategies are agreed, they need to be aligned with people activities through the people strategy. Once again, the HR community can play a key role at this stage even though it is not accountable for it. Fundamentally, HR’s contribution is twofold:

  • Implementing its responsibilities within the people strategy (the HR strategy) 
  • In supporting the business build the people strategy

This could involve using its skills and knowledge to support the business through: 

  • High performance work processes
  • Process mapping
  • Cultural change
  • Innovation

It is critical to recognise that HRs involvement in the people strategy is directly linked to its business value proposition.

HR strategy contribution & potential metrics

The HR strategy is where it all comes together for HR as it covers those measurable responsibilities that the HR community has within the people strategy. 

These can be broken down into:

  • HR fundamentals. Those activities that HR must undertake to ensure the smooth running of the organisation. Typical examples might include the payroll, the recruiting process and salary review process.)
  • There are two broad types of measures – to either ensure the process runs efficiently (e.g. cost, quality, speed, customer (dis)satisfaction ) and to ensure the output meets agreed measures.
  • The key is to ensure that the HR community is only measured on aspects of the employee life cycle that they control e.g. the quality of hire is the responsibility of line management but the quality of the short list might be an HR responsibility.
  • HR value proposition. Measures will depend upon the unique value that an HR community brings to its business. 
  • Linked to the people strategy and measured through people metrics.
  • Co-deliver the business strategy. Potential measures of this value might include: increase employee productivity; improve employee engagement; improve employee brand.
  • Support the implementation of performance improvement through change.

Work in partnership with the business to create synergies. Potential measures of this value might be:

  • Involvement in the planning, designing and implementing of the business strategies
  • Authority levels
  • Involvement in general management decision making
  • Ability to integrate the people agenda into the business agenda
  • Proactively Challenges status quo
  • Awareness of the contribution of all parts of the business to achieving the business goals

What measures should be set?

As an HR professional you should rise or fall depending upon your Results – what you deliver and how you deliver it. Research shows that for certain HR roles success is determined almost entirely to the quality of the individual role holder and only 3% is directly attributable to the HR structure. In other words looking to others for excuses for poor or low performance is no longer a good enough defence. 
At CourageousHR we know the Challenges HR professionals sometimes face when trying to overcome internal HR and organisational obstacles to make the impact they want. However, consider what measures you could set yourself. 

For example, in respect of your behaviours can you measure yourself?

  • Against a defined HR competency model?
  • Ability to say no?
  • Ability to Challenge in a constructive way?
  • Ability to talk about the business and organisational issues?
  • Ability to link business strategy to people implications to HR deliverables?
  • Ability to change your style to suit the audience and reflect the potential value added?
  • Ability to inform and educate stakeholders on the importance of people e.g. coaching?

HR can demonstrate value

HR, like any other part of an organisation, can be measured and judged. However, unlike more established functions such as finance, sales and marketing, HR does not have a heritage or regulatory framework of established metrics to draw upon and therefore faces a further difficulty in gaining organisational agreement to potential metrics before they are implemented.
The answer for HR professionals is that it needs to build close relationships with the business in order to be involved with and influence each phase of the strategy process and then measure its output. The reward for HR will be its ability to clearly demonstrate its contribution which can be measured and then ultimately rewarded. 

The prize for HR professionals who are willing to measure themselves is they will have the focus, clarity and organisational mandate to make the greatest impact and make a significant contribution to the business.

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