HR’s grasp of the heart of a business will drive strategy

HR’s understanding of the underlying environment of an organisation is key
to driving a company’s strategy.

Costas Markides, professor of strategic and international management at the
London Business School, told delegates that the underlying environment of a
business created staff behaviour, which in turn drove strategy.

"The strategy can be clear, but behaviour can undermine it," he
said. "If you want people to behave in ways that support your strategy,
put the right organisational environment in place."

He said HR could break down an organisation’s environment into four parts:
culture and values, measurement and incentive, people with their skills,
attitudes and mindsets, and the company’s structures and processes.

Markides warned that many years of conditioning, from school and throughout
working life, predetermined how people would react to situations. This meant
staff would make assumptions without realising it, and that these assumptions
could be detrimental to business.

"You tell people to think outside the box, but we cannot think outside
the box if we are not even aware we are in the box," Markides said.

He said one way of overcoming these mindsets was to bring diverse teams
together to question one another’s assumptions.

Markides said HR had to overcome time pressures, lack of confidence, fear of
failure and the belief that others would make the necessary changes, if it
wanted to make a real difference.

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