In a question and answer session at the launch of the "Raising the bar in HR recruitment (cobblers' children)" report, Linda Kennedy, recently appointed group HR director at Yell, responded to the inevitable question about whether HR is sufficiently aligned with wider business needs. Kennedy said HR should reduce its focus on strategy and what she called "navel-gazing" and "existential angst".
"It's not about strategic HR - HR should be figuring out what the business needs to do and then figuring out what it can do to support that. If you have that bit right, the rest should follow."
But surely "figuring out what the business needs to do and then figuring out what it can do to support that" is in itself a definition of HR strategy. It is only navel gazing if the analysis goes on for too long and/or doesn't result in any action, or at least not quickly enough.
HR practitioners themselves certainly agree that strategy is important. A survey of 334 by XpertHR
(you'll need to be a subscriber to see the full findings) found:
"The key characteristic of an effective HR function involves having a documented HR strategy in place, developed as an integral part of an organisation's main strategy."
So strategy is important and that's the view of HR people, not consultants or journalists or academics or other 'navel gazers'.
Which brings me to my point. You cannot do what Kennedy is talking about without having evidence about the context in which the organisation is operating and without understanding external drivers affecting the organisation. In other words you need some data.
It's not always easy deciding what data to use in HR or knowing where to find it. That is why Personnel Today is publishing a series of articles over the coming months providing support on how to use data and statistics in HR.
Data, metrics, ratios, analytics etc are not done to "navel gaze" but to inform strategy and to find out what impact HR initiatives are really having on organisational performance, as far as that is possible.
If you want to know what sort of data you can use read the second article in this series
. It's by HR expert (and former HR director) Andrew Mayo and it looks at the different sorts of data available to HR professionals.
One of the criticisms leveled at HR strategy and evidence based HR is that it is a luxury organisations cannot afford in the current survivalist climate of restructuring and change management. The first article in the series addressed this by proposing an approach to using data which is more flexible and contingent on short term developments
. The author, Nick Kemsley of Henley Business School, coined the phrase "tact-tegic" to describe how HR can use data in a way that combines longer term strategy and shorter term tactics.
Read the complete post at http://www.xperthr.co.uk/blogs/employment-intelligence/2012/03/is-the-bar-set-too.html
5 Mar 2012 3:21 PM
XpertHR - Employment Intelligence
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