Business Value of HR Initiatives
Over the period of 30 years, I have been fortunate to be part of many HR initiatives - some as a team member and others as a team leader, in some of the best-known organizations in India. And, as you might guess, while some of these initiatives delivered great value, many others at best, turned out to be ‘feel good’ or ‘nice to do’ things for the employees. And, if you happened to ask a line manager / business head about, the response for many of these initiatives is likely to be ‘Well, it consumed lot of time, not sure if we got anything much out of it’ or something along those lines.
With the benefit of hindsight, I think it’s worthwhile for us in HR to reflect on the experiences of driving such initiatives. I strongly believe that such a sharing can raise the quality of our effort and the contribution to business.
In this article, I share my perspective of the issues involved and the key differentiators, when it comes to HR initiatives adding business value.
1. Misplaced ‘sense of ownership’ by HR
By this I refer to HR’s belief that any intervention initiated by them, is also owned by them and they should be driving its execution.
To me, this is the single, most important factor that misdirects HR efforts and derails effective implementation. Except for some pure HR activity (like processing of LTA or any such benefit) where action is within the HR function, any other HR initiative meant to impact business operations or organization building, cannot be effectively implemented unless the ownership to drive it rests with the concerned business leadership team. Let me elaborate this with a hypothetical example.
An engagement survey scores reveal very low engagements in a certain pocket of an organization. The scores also correspond with the low performance and productivity levels in the unit. Deeper diagnostic efforts bring out poor managerial behaviours and practices as the primary reasons. Based on this understanding, HR designs an intervention that requires building certain people skills in the managerial cadres and instituting certain practices to address the situation.
Now, if HR begins with the training of the managers and focuses on monitoring whether the required behaviours and practices are being adhered to or not, it just doesn’t work. This kind of effort just does not have the energy - neither ‘’pull’’ nor ‘’push’’ to change the status quo or enertia in the system. After initial, appropriate noises made, the senior levels get occupied with their own day-to-day pressures and the managers get back to their ‘usual ways’. Almost zero change.
Contrast this with another approach that goes as follows.
Step 1. One - on - one with the business head to explain to him a) how the change from ‘driving the teams to perform’ to ‘engaging the teams to perform’ will make the difference to business b)the mindset and skill set of managers required to bring and sustain this change and c) why he-the business head, as the...