Recently I came across an article in the July-August 2015 Harvard Business Review entitled, “People before Strategy.” (I am not sure the link will work, but you can try clicking here to read it for yourself.) I was particularly struck by the sub-title, “A New Role for the CHRO”, for my immediate response was “How many organisations have a CHRO?”
I guess to some extent that is the intended response. Certainly the useful summary table provided in the article infers this.
The authors’ identification of the problem certainly appears to be a valid one. The need to make organisations more responsive, adaptable and faster to change have unquestionably fueled the recognition that human capital is a top challenge for executives today. This is further evidenced by the plethora of continuous improvement, knowledge management and employee engagement initiatives being undertaken. Yet despite this HR still remains the poor relation at the executive table.
The solution – that the CHRO must become a true strategic partner – therefore seems to be glaringly obvious. Yet the extent to which this has happened, or to which it is happening, is questionable, and remains a significant challenge. This is because, historically, HR has been a mainly bureaucratic function, so:
- HR itself does not fully understand what this new mandate requires; and
- Other executives don’t fully understand what HR needs to do either; and, as a result
- There is a credibility gap that is extremely difficult to close.
As a result, the approach suggested - that CEO’s rewrite the CHRO’s job description - is not as straightforward as it appears. And the lack of progress to date seems to bear this out. So, could this approach be wrong?
To answer that requires a fresh look at the problem and its causes. Arguably, the root problem is one of communication. CEOs and other executives generally use hard, empirical measures to assess performance. HR, on the other hand, is uncomfortable with this. They see “human” as the primary aspect of their role rather than “resources” and thus tend to be more comfortable with more subjective measures that other managers regards as “touchy, feely.” Consequently there is always a difference of perspective between HR and other managers, and this can cause tensions and mistrust.
Overcoming this calls for a new language that bridge the divide. For me the key lies in the phrase “human capital.” This retains the human element whilst simultaneously recognising the organisational value inherent in people. All that is then required is a way to determine that value in a way that both parties are comfortable with. When you have this you have the basis of a common “language” that bridges this communication gap and enables more effective cooperation and collaboration.
The ‘Every Individual Matters’ Model offers you this. It goes beyond “People Before Strategy” and makes your people integral to your strategy, its implementation and thus to your success. I therefore invite you to contact me to learn more and explore why this could be everything you are looking for to optimise your people and their contribution to your organisation and its performance.
If you like what you have read contact me today to discuss how my ‘Every Individual Matters’ Model could help you value your people and provide the catalyst to help you create an organic culture where everyone cares and the business becomes our business, embedding continuous improvement that engenders ‘love at work’ and transforms – and sustains – organic business performance.
Bay is the founder and director of Zealise, and the creator of the ‘Every Individual Matters’ organisational culture model that helps transform organisational performance and bottom-line results. Bay is also the author of several books, including “Lean Organisations Need FAT People” and “The 7 Deadly Toxins of Employee Engagement” and, more recently, The Democracy Delusion: How to Restore True Democracy and Stop Being Duped.