What goals are in place to address the weaknesses of your business?
We all prefer to think of our company's strengths rather than its weaknesses, but knowing the weaknesses of your business and the goals set out to address them will help to direct your thinking in terms of developing new HR initiatives. If, for example, you don't have enough skilled people for the production of a specific product, then the HR initiatives might include training, recruitment or both depending on the specific weaknesses identified and the resources available.
It is also important to understand the goals, be able to relate them to the part of the business that you support, and know how to apply that to developing new HR initiatives. This knowledge can be used to form the basis of your strategic plan and can influence the HR agenda for your business unit.
If you're aware of a business goal that has been put in place to address a specific weakness but don't know of any tactics being implemented to meet it, then this is also an area in which you can make suggestions. Often the goals will be around lack of skills, lack of the right people or lack of the right product. Where the weakness is lack of the right product, HR should ensure that the business has access to the right people with the right skills to develop it.
Sometimes a goal to combat a weakness will include acquiring another company that can address the shortfall, and if this is the case, as an HR person you'll need to be prepared to get involved.
If you've followed the advice in some of the earlier columns, you'll have already made inroads into gathering much of this information. You will already have been thinking about the goals and about what HR interventions might be needed to help, which will help you to make suggestions and establish a strategy.
You may need to check your HR strategy against the stated goals in the overall business strategy if you have nothing in place regarding understanding the business's weaknesses. If this is not a formal document, talk to people about the direction of the business the head of HR, finance director or other board member can help. Whatever you do, don't treat this challenge as a negative aspect of having to look at weaknesses. Look at it as an opportunity to talk proactively about the business, get to know your business partners better and make suggestions.
Jan Hills, director, HR with Guts