For many business leaders, handling staff-related issues and managing people is considered an HR issue. These execs are often unwilling to take full accountability for their role as “people managers”.
This may be the case, but companies are made up of people. And having the right people working in your business allows you to achieve a balance between what you produce, how your business functions and the growth you want to achieve.
Our CEO, Daniel Nel, describes HR as a business function that is regularly underrated by companies, especially in terms of their strategic value. HR can actually enable businesses to be more tactical and competitive, he adds.
As the world of work changes, the role of HR has to change too. HR is no longer just the function responsible for dealing with administration and people problems; HR is now a crucial business function and should be part of any conversations about business strategy.
So, what does this new, strategic face of HR look like?
Well, it all starts with understanding the organisation and the people who work in it. Most of the time, when initiatives or polices fail, it’s because they weren’t designed with the business strategy in mind.
Similarly, we need to understand how a business’ objectives align with employee objectives. At the end of the day, people work for you because they want to be part of something bigger. It is the role of business owners, managers and HR to provide meaning for their staff, which might feel like an unachievable goal because “meaning” implies different things to different people.
How managers can help
In order to communicate with people on a more personal level, and understand them better, managers must collaborate with HR. This is an effective approach because managers work so closely with their teams and, thus, better understand their employees and what purpose means for each person.
For example, our software development and marketing teams at Nebula have different sets of skills, interests and attitudes about the world. If you can’t speak their language you’re going to have a hard time meeting their needs, which why HR will never be successful without support from line managers.
As I mentioned above, it’s fairly common for managers to expect the HR function to be responsible for admin and stepping in when things go wrong. To me, this is the biggest reason why HR fails in so many companies: if your people managers don’t cooperate and believe in what you do, you’re never going to work together successfully.
As HR, our focus needs to evolve. Fast. HR must enable talent as soon as it walks in the door and empower others to create their own meaning. HR must also create an environment where people are comfortable enough to add their own flavour to tasks and can extract whatever purpose and meaning they want from their job. It’s important for HR to let go of control and add value in different ways.
As an example, recruitment is critical. HR’s new role includes building the company brand and establishing a reputation among groups of people who could potentially be part of your future workforce. In this way, HR is essentially adding digital marketing as part of their skill set.
By architecting different strategies, processes and interventions, HR enables managers to better engage with their people, rather than just dictating to managers how things should be done.
In addition to this, as so many business processes are being automated, one has to consider if this is the future for HR. System wise, new technologies make it possible to automate many compliance and admin functions. This makes general HR tasks more efficient. But there is only so much that can be done digitally.
Yes, you can get a wealth of information about your staff via digital means but there still needs to be some human element to the whole process. Think of HR as a business function that tracks the pulse of happenings within the organisation. Organisations will always rely on people. You can automate processes but as you do so, new needs arise. A person can never be automated and as long as people are around, HR will play a fundamental role.
Is your business strategy designed to achieve high performance success? Our monthly newsletter has a wealth of insights. Subscribe below.