The future of HR: not just pure admin, but real strategy

May 10, 2017 Franco Gementi


Human resources is experiencing a major change: after decades of HR being perceived as administrative the roles are now changing and HR departments are being seen as a strategic part of the business.


If you ask an HR Manager to graph the time devoted to strategic work compared to administrative work, the figure that would emerge would be very similar to the one shown here:


The truth is that administrative work takes time and resources, which are typically far from abundant in the HR team. The strategic work turns into administration when we are fighting with the technology that supports talent management programmes.


The solution is to move the HR managers from the role of administrators to the role of strategic consultants.


Attention to the needs of managers


First, never remove the human element from the equation.


Consider, for example, the technology. The technology becomes the "administrative" work when we have to configure systems and obtain data to see why the data was wrong, and then take the time to correct them. But if HR began to use technology not just to find information, but to start the conversation and analyse data, then the work would become "strategic".


To achieve this goal, it is necessary to involve management. Ask the manager information on the performance and productivity of their teams. Show interest and listen carefully, because managers may not be able to articulate their concerns in the language of HR.


When you have an idea of ​​their needs, you can help them build connections between the problem and the available data.


Understand the general situation of the company


You cannot only give managers HR data, they will want to know about the company data as a whole. They want to know: is the business increasing or decreasing? How are the product lines? How is the competition?


Once there is a clear picture on the performance of your organisation, you can link the data to the people. For example, changes in personnel or in the selection procedures could have affected the productivity of the company. What is the quantity of employees that were laid off? How complicated is it to hire and train new staff? Are the team members that left retiring or new hires?


Finally, think twice before starting an email with your discoveries. An email with a report on the turnover is likely to go unnoticed in the inbox of a senior manager: organise a meeting and discuss it in person instead. 


Using data as conversation catalysts


Take into account the method of "the five whys" as an aid to start the conversation, and then ask “because" five times in order to identify the true source of the problem. 


Every technological solution provides ready-made reports for you to use. If you take the time to configure, fix, and share pre-defined reports, you are doing administrative work. But if you take the time to talk with managers, identify their needs, understand the overall situation of the organisation and extract relevant and meaningful data, then you might be doing strategic work.


About the Author

Franco Gementi

Franco has deep experience in the Human Resources field, in particular on administrative management processes (in-sourcing and outsourcing) and human resources development, with particular attention to the evaluation of the employee's potential and career development and various aspects related to rewarding policies and training and development. Along the entire evolutionary path, from home made solutions to the current cloud in Human Resources.

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