HR from the Outside In by Dave Ulrich, Justin Allen, Wayne Brockbank, Jon Younger and Mark Nyman

This article was inspired by Dave Ulrich and company's HR from the Outside In . If you enjoy this article then consider purchasing or borrowing the book.

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How to Improve Your HR Department

“HR is not a single event – it’s a new pattern of thought or behavior.”

Rather than allowing your human resources department to continue focusing on “internal” issues, you can revitalize this aspect of your business, so that it will start contributing to the bottom line of your organization. Four steps are necessary for an HR makeover:

  1. “Business Context” – In order to transform HR, you must understand the concerns of your company’s stakeholders. Develop a business case for making these changes to the department. Create a group, with management’s backing, to carry out alterations and communicate clearly to everyone in your company the goals of this project.
  2. “Outcomes” – After your stakeholders are on board, you should determine the positive effects change will have on these groups. When you know what kind of results to expect, you can gauge the effectiveness of your efforts. Determine what corporate capabilities your HR department needs to adopt for success. These capabilities can range from the ability to manage risk well to emboldening creative employees. Once you have decided which areas to focus on, create an efficacy test and demonstrate to your stakeholders the benefits of expanding these capabilities.
  3. “HR Redesign” – Develop an “HR Strategy Statement” by determining what HR is all about and why it is necessary. Ensure that the organization of HR matches that of your business. Focus on improving what HR does and how it can improve. To improve what human resources does, follow these four steps:
  • “Flow of people” – Find talented hard-working employees.
  • “Flow of performance management” – Reward workers’ accomplishments and hold them accountable for their results.
  • “Flow of information” – Ensure that HR manages internal and external communications for your company.
  • “Flow of work” – HR is in charge of letting workers know their responsibilities.

Determine whether or not HR has met your goals and properly understood your “HR Strategy Statement.”

  1. “HR Accountability” – Without the support of essential stakeholders, HR cannot improve. Enlist the help of HR veterans and make sure line managers will properly communicate your transformation goals to employees. Put your chief HR executive and the HR heads of your various branches in charge of the project. Evaluate consultants’ advice and get direct feedback from customers.

Flextronics, Pfizer, Intel and Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America, Inc. (TNPA) have all improved their human resources departments by adopting specific strategies for change. If you wish to create a more efficient and beneficial HR department, you will have to get support from your stakeholders, clearly communicate your goals to those who will be making changes and most importantly…have a strategy laid out before you make changes.


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