Strategic HR

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Strategic HR

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Article written by Sherry Perkins, Profiles International

Our friends at Profiles International recently posted this very true and interesting article on the strategic role of HR within an organization. Let us know what you think about this – you can find us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Examining your seat at the table…

The strategic role of Human Resource Management (HRM) has never been more prevalent as a topic of discussion among HR managers, OD professionals, and senior executives. Nearly every business and professional magazine or scholarly journal features an article that focuses on the strategic influence of human resource management and its effect on the achievement of business results. Few would refute the importance of an organization’s most valued asset: human capital.

Nor would many argue with the essential contribution of those who specialize in the acquisition and optimization of this most valued asset. Yet, the seemingly unspoken resolution that human resource management takes a secondary, if not tertiary, seat of importance at the business table is in direct conflict with the presumptions of the critical role of HRM.

How many of us have been brought to the strategy table long after the business strategy has been determined? Perhaps we have joined the meeting on the last day, to hear the strategy and to be given a directive to hire and onboard a team to support the strategic direction. How many have been excluded from the strategic planning process all together, but rather were sent an email that asks us to develop a communications plan to articulate that strategy to the company-at-large? Most of us have encountered at least one of these occurrences, and may feel that our contribution to the business strategy and direction has been less than influential.

In truth, strategic talent management is a critical business component of strategic business planning, in and of itself. The dynamics of global business management, cultural influences, political and economic factors, intercontinental influences, generational issues, open systems management, and team leadership make the focus on human capital essential for organizational sustainability and growth. What mindset, then, is at the base of flawed thinking that human resource management is merely a support role to the real work of business?  How is it that the business mission, vision, and direction may be documented without any concrete discussion regarding the people resources that will translate that mission, vision, and direction into reality?

There is little doubt that HR managers, HR professionals, OD experts, and talent management specialists are more knowledgeable of people systems and processes than ever before.  We are highly trained, well read, experienced, and certified in every aspect of talent management.  Our learning is intentional, directional, and focused. We are experts in our field and recognized for our craft by each other and by leaders outside our discipline. What more could be desired to take our rightful seat at the table of decision makers?

The not-so-simple answer is that we must understand the businesses with which we intend to integrate. The executives want to know that we “get it” – that we understand the business we are in and can be trusted with ensuring its long-term sustainability. We really cannot fully support what we do not fully understand, and even if we could, we may not be viewed as credible. We must be able to articulate the business direction, the potential inhibitors and enhancers to progress (both internal and external), the trends in the industry, as well as what must be done to remain competitive.  We must learn the language of the industry and the metrics that define success.We must substantially contribute to discussions outside our immediate vernacular.

We must offer proactive HR/OD solutions that are fully integrated into business strategy, so they are not seen as add-ons or “personnel programs”. No executive will trust his/her business to those who are only tangentially connected – we must be all in. Want to be invited to the business table? Bring the meat!


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