When it comes to your expanding medium sized business, you have recognised the need for a more focused approach to your People Function. The challenge is knowing how to bring in the right set of Human Resources expertise to meet your developing needs.
In some countries, your legislative reporting and Strategic Workforce Planning requirements steps up by a significant amount as the number of people you employ increases. The hierarchical structure of the business also shifts at this level, requiring solid leadership skills for performance management, employee relations, and resource planning. Your decision makers, who have grown into their leadership roles because of their solid operational skills, could probably benefit from some coaching on making people decisions with the long-term vision in mind. And your business needs to bring in expertise for implementing good, solid people processes and reporting mechanisms. In short, your business needs Senior Management level HR expertise.
The Human Resources landscape has a wide scope, that often requires the function to “be all things to all people”. The HR department needs to be strong on attention-to-detail, numeracy, written and verbal communication, diplomacy, strategic thinking, business acumen, know their way around the local labour legislation, problem solving, technological acumen, be able to navigate their position as the “people’s champion” and Business Partner… it can be a mine field.
If you’re setting up your HR department, you will want to hire someone who has the knowledge and experience to set up the HR Policies and People Processes – someone who can catch the vision of the business, and collaborate to form a matching People Strategy. This requires someone with strong strategic thinking and design skills. But, once this has been done, you may find that you no longer need a “heavy weight”strategic muscle. Once the vision is set and the structures put in place, you need a “doer” – someone with strong executional skills, who doesn’t mind “maintaining” what has been put in place. That strategic thinker you needed in the beginning needs a new challenge, and something new to create! Your business also no longer needs to be paying for a full time senior resource – you need someone on the ground making things happen!
Another factor – a medium sized business does not require all the HR expertise all the time. There are seasons for certain legislative submissions, there are moments when situations require strong IR/ER expertise, and there are periods that require solid Talent Acquisition and development skills. Each of these is an area of specialisation, and unfortunately too often, an “HR Generalist” is the proverbial Jack/Jill of all trades….(you know how it ends). Then again, your small to medium sized business does not need to pay for a team of experts all year long…
Perhaps it is because we are not bringing in the “right type and level of HR expertise at the right time” that makes this function such a conundrum in many organisations. It is important to note that there is also no “one size fits all” silver bullet solution that will suit all businesses.
Based on our experience across a variety of organisational sizes, industries and cultures, we are confident that we’ve come up with a solution that is a good starting point for you to work from:
Bring in the “big guns” – a heavy weight strategic thinker with a couple of decades experience in the game, to partner with you for formulate your People Strategy (this need not cost an “arm and a leg”). Because every business is unique, this visionary would be a sparring partner to help you decide on the best HR structure for your business, and a strategy of the right time to bring in the expertise required. This strategist would collaborate to create your Talent Management programme and People Processes, implementing the best technology to support your organisations needs for People Engagement, Talent Management and Administration… this resource could take the form of a Consultant or a Contractor with a fixed term in which to achieve pre-agreed objectives.
The initial creative visioning and strategizing phase transitions into more of a maintenance position. The Strategic Business Partner should maintain a relationship with your business – stepping in to attend Strategic Business meetings, and to consult on high-level matters as and when the need arises. They will play an integral role in appointing/training the HR Professional that takes up the baton and runs with all the programmes and structures that have been implemented.
Your HR Professional can be an in-house resource, or an outsourced contractor/consultant, depending on the volume of work that needs to be attended to in terms of your business’ People Strategy. The key requirement is that this person needs to be a strong Executer. They have got to be able to Drive action when it is required of managers and employees, and they have got to have the commitment to ensure that cycles run on time, and achieve their desired end.
Depending on the volume of work and the size of your business, you might also make use of an HR Transactional Support resource – someone who attends to the highly routine HR administration so that the rest of the HR team is free to apply their creative energy to the issues of the day (and is there ever a dull moment in “HR”?)
Finally, your business needs a pool of experts to pull in when you need them – legislative experts, IR/ER experts, learning and development experts, talent acquisition and transformation experts, etc. In this way, you only pay for the level of expertise that you need WHEN you need it.
The entire team needs to work in a collaborative way – lead by the Strategic Business Partner to ensure that all initiatives and activities are delivering on time and hitting the mark as defined by the objectives laid out in the People Strategy for your business.
We believe in a model that incorporates the right set of expertise at the right time, and the consistent presence of a strong executional people practitioner/s with a personal brand for reliability, know-how and care. This approach is cost-efficient and ensures that your resources are focused, engaged, and delivery-oriented within their realm of expertise.
It is time to refresh. Reimagine the HR function for your business. Let’s not simply repeat what we’ve always done. This is the time of the great Reset – let’s reset this important function in our businesses.