Implementing Effective Human Resource Strategies
In order to ensure the success of a business through effective human resource strategies, a Human Resources (HR) Professional or any Senior Manager needs to understand three basic elements. Firstly, the principal concepts of Strategy and HR. Secondly, how these interconnect with the “people” factor within an organisation. And last but not least, how to adjust them to her/his organisational context. The scope of this post is to share my thoughts on the main concepts of Human Resources Management (HRM) and Strategy. Moreover, I am aiming to highlight how these connect and transform to Strategic HRM (SHRM) approaches. Moving forward, I make connections on how SHRM practices can ultimately assist Senior Managers towards leading their organisations to success.
Throughout the post, the strategic role of HR is emphasised. Always taking into consideration parameters such as people, competitive advantage, effectiveness and high performance, learning and innovation organisational cultures. Concluding, I exhibit the importance of analysis, adjustability and adaptation. After all, in real life the circumstances and current conditions can affect the effectiveness of any practice.
HRM and Strategy – The Basic Linkages
What is HRM?
One can define HRM as activities and processes that relate to managing people and work in organisations. The conceptual framework of HRM is built on the basis of behavioural sciences, and on industrial and human capital theories. Its activities cover almost all areas in the organisational context. Starting from human capital and knowledge management, resourcing, organisational design and development. HRM also touches ground on learning and development practices, which are interconnected with performance appraisal, reward management and any other employee related matter. In its acronym, HRM has two main axes; Human and Resources. Pretty simple, right?
What if you had all the resources in the world, but nobody to utilise them though?Fotis Yiannakou
In the past HR roles were mostly seen as supportive, but as the pool of talent for organisations continues to shrink, its strategic point of view is becoming more and more critical. Adding to the aforementioned is the fact that employees are a valuable asset for organisations to transform as a competitive advantage. What is a competitive advantage? In the research’s field there is a lot of controversy on the definition, but the overall agreement lies under its outcome! The outcome is to generate value which no current or potential competitor has through effective human resource strategies.
Strategy in a Few Simple Words…
Moving on, strategy is about a direction, a scope, the long-term achievements, and how an organisation configures its resources and competences to reach a desired result. All the above aim at keeping happy all the stakeholders of an organisation (i.e. shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers etc). Simply put, we can say that strategy is an approach which organisations use to accomplish their mission and implement their vision. With the fast pace of change, strategy management is becoming more and more challenging nowadays because of the increased complexity of environments. Thus, organisations need to transform and survive using effective human resource strategies. Isn’t strategy a revolution? At the end of the day, who revolutionises though?
The “People” Factor
Now, let’s use some questions to connect all the above. Who is going to form the strategic direction? Who must sense and analyse the complex organisational environment, form the strategic plan and make the best possible decisions? And who needs to follow up on that plan? Does one need to personally advance to get there? Who needs to be engaged in the day-to-day tasks so as for the long-term goals to be achieved? Who will manage information? Furthermore, who needs to monitor, give feedback and take corrective action? Who needs to implement systems for change to be managed? How does change become manageable? Who will brainstorm for the latter? Who will help an organisation innovate? The answers to the above questions can be summarised in one word. People. And who deals with people within organisations? HR maybe?
SHRM – Putting Strategy Into Practice
Since strategy is clear and an organisation knows where it’s heading, then action begins. SHRM is actually concerned how the strategy will be implemented. People and resources need to be managed for the goals to be achieved. If employees don’t understand or know how to contribute to strategic objectives, how can they be effective in doing so? Did you get the keyword? Effectiveness..! That is, getting things done! Productively. Some Senior Managers still see HR as payroll, paper work and so on… Isn’t that tragic? Why can we not value HR’s strategic important role? What is the correct point of view? For any business (small or big)?
Effective Human Resource Strategies
In any organisation, Managers and HR professionals (or practitioners) need to prioritise and connect every strategic objective to its functional perspective, and develop policies and procedures that boost employee productivity in the most practical context. The ultimate scope of course in any organisation, always relates to performance improvement, which – again – people make it happen. What strategies (or practices) are available for Senior Managers to utilise so as to maximise the potentials of strategic effectiveness in an organisation? Believe me, there are many. Due to the fact that the literature is extremely extensive around the topic, I will focus my thoughts on bulleted, simple and practical aspects that I consider to be easily understandable and applicable for any organisation regardless its context or size.
When it comes to HRM, things are so interrelated and interconnected, which makes it difficult to see the practices in a “stand-alone” form.Fotis Yiannakou
Do you disagree? I will support my statement with the next questions. How can an organisation have engaged employees if the job design works against the cause? Or if there is not an articulate rewarding system built around the concepts of motivation and satisfaction? From another angle, how can an organisation manage its talented employees if the functions for proper knowledge and intellectual capital don’t exist? I can go on and on questioning things you know… 🙂
People and Organisational Effectiveness
– Know and properly cascade the organisation’s vision and strategic objectives. Share the drivers of your strategy, mirror and match them to your people.
– Work on attracting, developing and retaining the right people that are a match for your organisational culture.
– Build such an organisational culture which promotes ethical values, ethical leadership, security, diversity, work-life balance and healthy relationships. Your culture will then do the “marketing” for you…
– Connect a motivating rewards & performance appraisal system to training, learning and development. In all personal, team, department and organisational levels.
– Create a learning environment and let people own it. Learning leads to innovation. Innovation leads to ultimate value delivered, which in return leads to long-term sustainability and survival.
– Engagement, engagement, engagement..! Teams and Trust should be your middle name.
– Focus on change, high performance, managing knowledge and intellectual capital.
– Last but not least, acknowledge, reward and celebrate achievements and milestones. In all levels!
Analysing, Adjusting and Adapting…
I could go ahead and argue that the above concepts touched on the previous paragraphs are a match for any organisation. But are things generic? Is there an ideal model on SHRM practices? Are the concepts suitable for all cases or should one apply what fits best? In the field of SHRM there are different perspectives on the practices’ approach. On the one hand we have the “best-fit” model, which encourages that different HR strategies have to focus on the needs of organisations and employees. Always taking into consideration corporate culture, organisational structure, technology, behaviours and processes in place. On the other hand, the “best-practice” model suggests that specific universal bundles in HR activities can help organisations increase their performance and achieve their competitive advantage regardless of their industry or context.
I believe that the “best-fit” approach seems to be the more realistic, but you need to ensure that you do not mechanically match HR practices and policies to an organisation’s strategy. At the same time you shouldn’t neglect the importance of HR bundling. A Senior Manager or an HR professional should take into consideration multiple parameters before forming her/his HR strategies. The emphasis on this perspective should be on the results of the strategic analysis, and on the fact that an organisation’s strategic choices have the ability to influence the practices of the HR professionals. Always taking into consideration the strategic role of HR and the HR strategies in place. Bottomline, is that HR professionals should develop and implement effective human resource strategies that will enable an organisation to achieve its objectives, based on the dynamic context of operations and the desirable long-term results.
The well acknowledged concept of people in organisations will always be the key to organisational sustainability and success.Fotis Yiannakou
To sum up, how we utilise the “people” factor should be the core of each strategic approach. Especially if we take into consideration the rapid changing environments that organisations operate nowadays. Won’t the HR role become even more significant and strategic in the upcoming decades? How will the evolution of technology and AI will affect effective human resource strategies?
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