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Strategic Human Resources

Today’s information-based, knowledge intensive, and service-driven economy has forced organizations to make substantial changes to the way they compete.  Changing perspective and responsibility of top management amidst rapid Business and Digital Transformation and the shifting role of HR from being an auxiliary function to that of a driver are some of the dynamics of the evolved competition.

This evolution of Competition has been reached by passing through 3 phases:

  1. Competition for Products & Markets
  2. Competition for Resources & Competencies
  3. Competition for Talent & Dreams

Throughout the evolutionary phases of competition, the focus of Growth Strategy, the tools used, and the key strategic resources have been shifting.  The strategic objective of front-running organizations is on continuous evolution and Transformation, and motivated Human Capital is their key resource.  This realization is now at the forefront of Strategy Development as competition for scarce Talented Human Resources becomes more intense.  However, modern-day managers are still using old tools to deal with an emerging reality.

Dexterity in leadership and management is a prerequisite for leaders now.  Research suggests that the 3 important changes that the CEOs must make in terms of their strategic perspective are in:

  1. Strategic Resources
  2. Value Creation and Distribution
  3. Role of Senior Leadership

More on this topic in our editable PowerPoint presentation on Strategic Human Resources.

With the fast-changing focus in Strategy, Human Resource Managers are finding themselves leading the strategic charge.  However, a large majority is ill prepared for the role.  With Human Capital becoming key strategic resource and basis of Competitive Advantage, HR must adopt 3 core processes to evolve into the strategic HR function that has become their new realm:

  1. Building
  2. Linking
  3. Bonding

Let us delve into the first 2 core processes to strategic HR function in a little more detail.

1. Building

The first core process of Building is all about creating human resource systems, processes, and culture to counter the deep-rooted bias towards financial assets and recognize the value of Human Capital.  For instance, Microsoft annually scans the entire pool of 25,000 U.S. computer science graduates for the best 500 to be given offers, of which 400 – top 2% of that year’s graduates – accept.  This only fills 20% of the positions.  For the rest, Microsoft maintains industry linkages with 300 recruiting experts who scour the industry for the best and the brightest individuals, often wooing them for years.

2. Linking

Developing Knowledge Sharing Networks is core to leveraging Human Capital.  Converting individual expertise into embedded intellectual capital is what linking is all about.  For example, British Petroleum in the 1990s introduced the Knowledge Management and Organizational Learning program.  The main feature of the program was the “Peer Assist” where frontline workers in one location would help solve a problem for workers in another location without the usual hierarchy intervening.  Peer Assist was augmented by the “Peer Groups” of business units—i.e. business units engaged in the same assisting activities as frontline individuals.  This way managers of decentralized operations compare experiences and share ideas.  Once this Information Sharing Network took root it was supported by setting up information-sharing infrastructure – e.g., video conferencing, chat rooms, video clip encoders etc.

Interested in learning more about the details of the 3 Core Processes required to evolve your HR into a strategic HR function and Key Actions needed to implement these?  You can download an editable PowerPoint presentation on Strategic Human Resources here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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About Mark Bridges

Mark Bridges is a Senior Director of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is your go-to resource for best practices in business management, covering management topics from Strategic Planning to Operational Excellence to Digital Transformation (view full list here). Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. Prior to Flevy, Mark worked as an Associate at McKinsey & Co. and holds an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. You can connect with Mark on LinkedIn here.

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