HR must not discard operational value in bid to become strategic

Thank you for a refreshing and thought-provoking challenge to the nave delusion that seems to afflict our profession – that HR will only add value when it has a seat at the top table (Getting in Tune, Personnel Today, 16 May). And thank you for questioning the self-flagellation that drives us to discard administration in favour of being strategic.

This overdue dose of reality means we can all be a little clearer about what ‘doing strategy’ actually means in practice.

Perhaps as a profession we have been missing the point that every strategic decision brings operational and administrative work in its wake. That is, if you want it to be a success.

It is high time that we had an injection of confidence, and recognised that there is value in operational support. We might not be able to see it in performance metrics, perhaps, but we will see it in the professional respect of our peers.

Finance and marketing seem secure enough not to feel pressured to engage in a headlong stampede to get rid of their administration. Yes, there are HR professionals who have achieved public recognition for successful strategic interventions. But there are many more whose careers have stumbled because they didn’t get the basics right.

Let’s stop pretending that we all want to and must strive to feed into corporate strategy as a profession, and throw away operational value.

Instead, let’s start thinking strategically as individuals. We shouldn’t navely expect some enlightened conversion to the value of HR – just get out there and talk to colleagues in other functions, in their language.

John Constable
Training and development consultant

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