The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology

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6 Traits of the Next Generation HR Leader

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(A response to Jason Corsello)

Usually I would say rebuttal instead of response, but Jason has this one right on.  If you don’t read his site, start now by going there to see his comments on all of the below.  Anything in bold is a direct quote from his blog, but as always I’ve added my own color commentary.

  1. Can manage complex teams of employees, partners and vendors.  I’m going to add to this that s/he will need to be able to manage complex projects as well.  As HR gets more complex, the projects we are involved in require more planning and better implementation execution.  Wrapping together all of the threads for a project into what’s going on in the rest of the organization requires someone who is multi-functional and has broad understanding.  This often carries on after implementation/execution.  Partners and vendors are critical to an HR organization’s success.  As we outsource more and become more reliant on 3rd parties, the continuous partnership and negotiation of that partnership must be left in someone’s skilled hands.
  2. Knows how his strategy (and execution of that strategy) is impacting the financial performance of the business.  Jason makes a great point that many HR executives don’t understand how they impact the balance sheets.  Not only is it critical to be able to quantify this if you want more funding for HR projects next year, but you’ll also want to understand the “soft costs” that may not be easily seen.  For many organizations these soft costs are as important as the real dollar savings.  Things like employee engagement can be measured through surveys and recruiting costs, but might be harder to quantify into productive dollars.  Still, if you can show a return and explain the positive affect, there’s a reward and more strategic pursuits to follow.  Part 2 of this point is that you simply can’t sell your next project if you don’t have a business case.  Learn the ROI analysis (well, some analyst can do that for you) and then follow up after implementation to measure if you achieved that ROI.
  3. Uses analytics to manage his business.  I’ve beat this one to death as well.  Analytics is not a turnover report.  Analytics are diagnostic tools that allow executives to identify trends in the organization and help shape the strategy you implement to bolster or reverse that trend.
  4. Creates a flexible work environment and is capable of managing change.  Change is rampant in HR.  One would say change always runs rampant in business, but HR change is relatively new.  The problem is that we don’t really have a group of senior HR professionals that understands change and has done it successfully many times.  I believe this is a new skill set HR needs to develop, and those who can develop it will easily position themselves as the next generation of HR leaders.
  5. Capable of selling his strategy throughout the organization.  (see #2)  If you’re not selling your strategy to the organization, you’re not changing.  If you’re not changing, you’re sitting on your ass.  If you’re sitting on your ass, you’re about to get replaced.  Since that was so eloquent, I’ll follow up with a little story.  There’s this guy over at ADP National Accounts.  Wally is the VP of Human Resources for arguably the largest HR vendor in the world.  Not only is he IN there at ADP promoting what he wants to do next, but he’s also OUT there telling the world what he’s doing at ADP.  By selling his strategies internally and externally and telling the world about the best practices ADP uses on itself, he’s also an incredible contributor to sales, the internal brand and the external brand.
  6. Understands technology and how to deliver technology to an enterprise.  (see #’s 1 and 4)  You’d think I’d have more to say about this as it’s a HR technology site.  I think for the HR leader, it’s less about understanding how to deliver technology, and more about how to deliver services to HR and to the organization.  Technology is ubiquitous and we have really smart people telling us what to do with it.  The HR leaders need to filter through the tech noise and understand how to deliver a cohesive strategy to seamlessly deliver a multitude of services.

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3 responses to “6 Traits of the Next Generation HR Leader”

  1. 6 Traits of the Next Generation HR Leader July 31, 2006 on 2:00 am | by Systematic HR (A response to Jason Corsello) Usually I would say rebuttal instead of response, but Jason has this one right on.  If you don’t read his site, start now by going there to see his comments on all of the

  2. Bruce Lewin Avatar

    Looks very thorough and perhaps something that might be new to some people?

  3. Naomi Bloom Avatar
    Naomi Bloom

    This is a terrific start, but I think we should add:

    7. Understands and applies the specifics of HRM program and plan designs as they affect/accomplish specific business outcomes. The point here is that it’s not enough to reduce the cost and time-to-hire; it’s essential to improve the quality of those hires as represented by their fit and accomplishments initially and over time. It’s not enough to manage, through plan designs, the costs of benefits but rather to ensure that organizational performance is enhanced by those plan designs. Knowing exactly how specific organizational designs enhance organizational performance, how specific sales incentive plan designs enhance revenues, and how specific developmental investments produce enhanced organizational capabilities and outcomes, this is critical to HR leadership, to knowing where to make HR investments, and to knowing how those investments will improve materially a specific organization’s essential business outcomes.

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