December 15, 2017

How can HR stay relevant?

Written by: Per Carlsson
Partner, Senior Consultant and Head of Talent Management Solutions – AIMS International Sweden

We meet senior HR leaders who are spending a lot of time understanding what HR needs to do to be a relevant partner to the business; today and tomorrow. In times when we are experiencing broad technological shifts – like digitalisation – the demand for leaders and other key resources that can capture the possibilities are huge.

The limelight is often turned on HR – not only to find these resources but also help moving the organisation into the next phase. Can HR meet these expectations? HR is often expected to work with People, Organisation and Culture – we will focus on People today.

If you look back, you can see that HR has been through a remarkable development. From being a function with an important but limited responsibility for hiring and contracting people to today’s organisation leading several important businesses supporting processes such as performance management and talent management. The HR profession has developed and is now in many important aspects well defined when it comes to ways of working and best practices. This development has also been supported by a vast number of HR support systems / IT-applications that make it possible to run standardized people processes in organisations – across functions and geographies.

When we talk to our clients we often find that, despite the best intentions, many of the people processes are not perceived to deliver clear business value. The processes such as performance management, talent planning, talent identification and development and succession planning are seen to be very laborious, they do not have a clear link to the business needs, the different processes are not aligned towards the same goals and the output is simply not helpful!

‘HR is facing a mid-life crisis’ as one HR professional phrased it recently.
That would have been unwelcome news in a period of slow or steady development, but it can be disastrous in periods of rapid and profound change. The lack of proactive adaptation of the people processes to new demands means that HR, instead of being an important enabler of change, risks being a blocker or being perceived as lacking relevance to the business creation.

The solution is to start creating a very clear understanding of the business strategy and which demands it puts on leaders and other human resources in the organisation. Despite HR often being a member of senior management teams, we see that this consequence analysis often tends to be highjacked by a systems and process discussion. At this stage this is not a systems driven issue – it’s a business question.
The next step is to decide on how to acquire the needed capabilities to the organisation – to hire from outside or build these capabilities with existing resources. Often the answer is a combination of the two approaches.

Once the analysis is done a limited number of activities and processes to act on the insights can be initiated and implemented. Then we need to understand the needed capabilities of HR and how the organisation should be serviced.
We often find that certain processes can be simplified or removed entirely, providing focus and clarity.
HR needs to take back the “management” of talent management. But it needs to be guided by a clear link to the business. That link needs to be seen by others – the business. This is the way to stay relevant and to become the value creating function is should be.

Per Carlsson
Partner, Senior Consultant and Head of Talent Management Solutions – AIMS International Sweden
Member of AIMS Global Team Talent Management

THIS LINK leads you to a video in which we give a brief introduction to how AIMS work with two important aspects of Strategic Leadership Sourcing – Finding & Growing.

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IT’S ALL ABOUT PEOPLE, NOT SYSTEMS AND COMPLIANCE

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