1. Become a strategic business partner
You can become a better business partner by expanding your business knowledge. You want to become familiar with business terms so you can communicate with other departments using their language. Learn about accounting, marketing, operations and how your company is positioned in the industry. You might also find a senior level manager to become your mentor. Try to attend management meetings to create the link between the HR department and the success of your company. By being proactive in your professional development, you will gain credibility and the support of other senior managers in your efforts as a strategic partner.
2. Link the functions of the human resources department with the company’s strategies
You might think that compensation, benefits, recruitment, and training are self-contained functions. They are not. These HR practices can be directly linked to the organization’s business strategy. For example, let’s say your organization’s top strategy is valuing customers. You need to show how your human resources practices support this goal. A compensation plan that rewards employees for customer service links the HR practice and the strategy. Likewise, a training program that teaches employees how to deal with difficult people also links HR to the corporate strategy. Conversely, if your human resource practices are not aligned with the corporate strategy, your organization may not be functioning as efficiently as it could. The HR practices could actually be promoting employee behaviors that don’t support the organization’s mission.
3. Make HR a measurable asset
An organization’s employees can seem like an intangible asset. Everyone knows that workers are needed, but their value is difficult to quantify. When machinery is purchase or changed, companies can measure the impact, since machinery is concrete. To make HR a business partner in your organization, you need to be able to show on paper how human resource investments impact the organization financially. For example, you need to convince the division manager to invest in an employee safety training program that will cost $5,000. You might want to do some research to quantify the impact of this training. If the training prevents an accident, calculate the cost of the accident using lost work time, insurance, etc. You want to show the return on investment. The Society for Human Resources Management has an HR Metrics Toolkit on its web site (www.shrm.org) with formulas that help you quantify human resource functions.
In short, while the traditional HR roles are still important, today’s human resources professionals can bring additional value to their organization. They can act as a proactive business partner.
- See Two Barriers That Traditional Human Resources Departments Need to Watch Out For to learn more about how to make human resource departments more effective.