A proactive stance will give HR impact in 2003

Can you make the next 12 months really count as an HR leader not a follower?

New Year resolutions always get broken, but one pledge the profession should
make – and keep – is to hold back less and be more assertive in driving forward
change.

This year promises to be just as testing as 2002 with continuing uncertainty
over Iraq, turmoil in some markets and business generally having to do more
with less.

In this climate, HR has a crucial role to play in improving people
capabilities, strengthening the predictability of the business and raising
standards of operational effectiveness. The future is about creating
organisations where the people strategies are progressive and unique, where the
performance of the workforce is the differentiator with competitors.

If you’re going to make this happen, you can’t afford to sit on the
sidelines. HR has to be seen as a utility player, able to lead and inspire all
parts of business with flair and versatility. A bolder approach requires trust,
understanding and broad business acumen that go beyond core HR skills.

Immerse yourself in other parts of the organisation and learn to be more
proficient in all aspects from sales and finance to production and marketing.
The board focus is important, but the big decisions are made long before they
reach the CEO and board of directors. Get to know the senior management
stakeholders within the different functions. Listen to their challenges, and
respond with practical, relevant initiatives. Be in the thick of the key debates
and use your expertise to be proactive. Take responsibility, intervene, guide
and influence fellow directors.

Geoff Armstrong, director general of the CIPD, writing on this page,
believes the profession is ready and capable of making a deeper impact. Yet
he’s understandably frustrated that so many organisations still fail to develop
progressive people management and behave ‘like rabbits frozen in the headlights
of an oncoming car’.

Going that extra mile, being more persuasive and refusing to be sidetracked
by doubters will not be easy. But it’s a strident, optimistic HR profession
that is embarking on 2003 and, together with the CIPD, we have every reason to
be positive.

By Jane King

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