HR as a Business Partner
You’ve likely heard that YOU, the HR professional, are a strategic business partner. But what does that really mean? When your fellow team members mention the strategic direction of the company, where do you fit in?
Human Resources brings a great deal of value to an organization. The profession has changed significantly over the past 20 years. Today’s HR Pro is expected to not only wear multiple hats associated to an employee’s life cycle, but also act as a business leader, one who can guide an organization through and around a continually changing economic landscape.
The primary goal of this course is to help you understand what business strategy is and how you, the HR pro, can act as a mighty force multiplier in its implementation. After setting the foundation with key terms, the focus will turn to the importance of communication and explain what expertise you provide in People Development, Organization Structure and Change Management.
Take this course to better understand your value and role as a strategic business partner. As a result, you will lead your team and workforce to the successful implementation of its business plan and achievement of its key performance objectives.
HR Jetpack is recognized by SHRM to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP. This program is valid for 1.0 PDCs for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP. For more information about certification or recertification, please visit shrmcertification.org.
This activity, has been approved for 1.0 HR (Business) recertification credit hours toward aPHR™, PHR®, PHRca®, SPHR®, GPHR®, PHRi™ and SPHRi™ recertification through HR Certification Institute® (HRCI®). For more information about certification or recertification, please visit the HR Certification Institute website at www.hrci.org.
The use of the HRCI seal confirms that this activity has met HR Certification Institute's® (HRCI®) criteria for recertification credit pre-approval.
Title: What is Your Organization’s Primary Focus?
Module: Setting the Foundation
Remember I mentioned that it is usually NOT the mission of successful organizations to exist simply to make money. Your organization has a primary focus they leverage to accomplish their mission. Successful organizations do make money, of course. Successful non-profits help a lot of people and causes. But making money and helping a lot of people and causes is a result of being aware of effectively implementing and fulfilling the mission.
In order to successfully implement a strategic plan, understanding your organization’s primary focus can help form the strategic framework. I would like to discuss 9 main focus areas organizations leverage to fulfill their mission. It is imperative that you, as an HR professional, know what your organization’s main focus is so you can align HR policies, procedures, and talent needs to that focus.
I first learned these focus areas from a literary mentor of mine, Alan Weiss. As I describe these organizational focus areas, think about what the primary focus of your organization is.
The first primary focus area is “products and services.” These organizations focus solely on a specific product or service. An example would be In-and-Out Burger. In-and-Out Burger is a western fast food chain that has built their business around having a very simple menu. You will never see “experimental” kitchens at In-and-Out Burger. They sell and focus on selling hamburgers and homemade fresh cut french fries. They are product and service driven.
Second, another focus area would be, “markets served”. This focus area has a very specific market segment they are looking to serve. Think of community banks or credit unions. These organizations serve a very specific group of clients. They may sell many products and services or very few, but they only sell to specific market segments. Another example from the non-profit space would be the Girl Scouts. They are experts in developing and empowering young female leaders.
Our third area is “Technology”. I would argue that Tesla is a technology focused organization. If their focus was simply on “selling electric cars” they would be “product/service” focused.” This is not what they do though. Tesla is focused and leveraging technology to improve existing products…cars. Many would say the Dyson “vacuum” company has a “product/service” focus. They too are a technology company that focuses on the best, most efficient way to “move air.”
The fourth area of focus for organizations is “Natural Resources”. Mining companies and utilities would be a good example of this. To use another example from earlier in the course would be Starbucks. Their entire organization rises and falls on the wonderful natural resource, coffee.
The fifth area is “Production Capability”. Many manufacturing organizations would be considered a production capability focused company. If the line is shut down due to lack of orders or maintenance issues, money is being lost.
The sixth and seventh areas are “Method of Sale” and “Method of Distribution”. For “Method of Sale” think of your online retailers of today and your catalogue companies of yesterday. For “Method of Distribution” think McDonald’s or Subway. Many fast food companies and brick and mortar retailers sell many products and services primarily through their distribution vehicle of stores.
Our eighth area of focus is “Size and Growth”. Many startups are a “growth focused” organization. Tech companies need to grow quickly to encourage more investors and/or gain market share quickly.
Lastly, “return or profit” is a focus. These would be your true conglomerate organizations that simply purchase companies that have no rhyme or reason or connection to each other than they simply make money. These are very rare but there are companies that exist with this as a main focus.
To be an effective business partner you must, first, know what your organization’s focus is. If you aren’t quite sure what the primary focus of your organization is, be curious and ask. Talk with your fellow leaders and management team. Having a conversation with these key stakeholders in your organization will not only give you more insight to the business of your organization, but it will also promote your HR Team as the key business partner and partners that you are!
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Scott has spent nearly two decades in the human resources, learning and organization development professions. Scott has led multiple organizations and has taught hundreds of students on effectively creating and implementing business strategy, managing change, and designing effective learning solutions.
Scott is also an Associate Adjunct Professor of Training & Development, as well...