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More thoughts on Strategic [HR]

Posted by Meg Bear on December 15, 2009


Are we all clear?

A few months back Steve Boese spent some time on the question about how to get more strategic.  My comment at the time was focused on the idea that maybe the first goal should be to be seen as helpful.

I am fortunate in my job, to be able to talk to business leaders about what they are looking for in HR systems.  As often happens, I get a lot more than systems feedback, I get some great insights into the HR function.  I find that often HR practitioners want to lead with agenda over relationship.  I personally think this is a bad idea.  Frankly, until you get the relationship worked out it doesn’t matter what agenda you have.

As an HR business partner, you have a choice to be seen as a helpful or a administrative hassle/roadblock.  It doesn’t matter what you know to be important.  If your business leader does not value your opinions, you are never going to be participating strategically.  In fact, you might find your business partner looking for ways to kill your strategic agenda.

Like everything else, a role of strategic influence is one that must first be built upon trust.  A great way to build trust with your business partner is to first be helpful in an area that she cares about.  Give her a sense that you are ready and willing to help.  Doing whatever is required to provide real value and service.

Once you nail that part the rest will get a lot easier.

In addition, you might just find yourself re-thinking what you consider important, as you gain more context about what the business is struggling to accomplish.

4 Responses to “More thoughts on Strategic [HR]”

  1. Meg – I think you made some excellent points, simply wanting to be more ‘strategic’ without demonstrating the ability to provide value and building the foundation of a relationship first is a difficult proposition for HR. Add value, build the tight partnership and many times the more ‘strategic’ activities will flow from that base.

  2. Meg,

    Just finished a client conversation about this.

    Client (Division Prez) knows the HR person knows how to be helpful. But the issue is “language”–that is, “doesn’t speak in biz/lay terms”, so folks have to work hard to figure out what he’s talking about.

    Every discipline has its own jargon; we all have to focus on being “bi-lingual.”

    • Meg Bear said

      agree! Talking in the language of the receiver is so critical to a relationship. Especially, if that receiver is someone you need to get on your side and/or is senior to you. I think that’s a great post topic in itself actually. Thanks Steve!

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