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How to Integrate Your HR Team into Your Business

Posted by: Cheryl Jekiel | No Comments

I have been working with a business partner, Mark, and his HR person, Andy.

Mark kept complaining that Andy seemed overly focused on all the wrong priorities. When I spoke with Andy, his perspective was that even though he had a full plate (hiring people, running engagement surveys, processing pay increases, running safety committee meetings, etc.), he felt overloaded and like he still wasn’t meeting Mark’s expectations.

What did we do?

We worked on developing some planning processes including speaking with customers, getting clear on business priorities, and figuring out what really needs to happen in the business. Then, we assessed whether HR’s priorities were the right priorities. That made a huge difference and, more importantly, the very process of doing that shifted how Andy showed up. It shifted his thinking.

Somewhere in the process, Andy could see his habit of staying focused inside HR on HR topics. But he was really energized when he could find his way out of them.

A lot of times, folks just need someone to mentor them out of that place to support them in creating some new habits.

It can be hard for HR professionals to connect the work they do with its impact on the company’s external customers, and this causes them to become out of touch with the business itself.

If they, like Andy, spend their days doing HR work, they generally don’t build business skills and might find themselves at work in a business they don’t particularly understand.

I continue to get complaints from business partners who are dissatisfied with HR. This won’t change, however, until they actively alter how HR is integrated into the business.

From my experience, HR folks are smart enough and strategic enough to become true business partners. They just need help shifting their mindset away from being focused entirely on HR.

There are 4 key ways to do this.

1. Have them spend time with different members of the business team. Have them talk with members of different functions about what the big business priorities are, and why. Each department, including sales, customer service, marketing, and operations can share what the driving business issues are in their area.

2. Create a safe place for mentorship on business basics. Include specifics of the financials of the business and give examples of how HR work affects them. Focus on the key factors that drive the most important numbers of the business (for example, what drives revenue, the key categories of expenses, etc.).

3. Make sure the sales strategy and customer issues are completely clear. Everyone in the business, including HR, should know who the top 10 customers are as well as what adds value to the company. Emphasize their link with the HR work by showing what it is that they can do to influence the company strategy for the future.

4. Assign them work projects that have nothing to do with HR. I would even consider a rotation out of HR for a week or a month so that they learn the business apart from just the HR department.

When you do this, the Andys and Marks of your business will stop clashing, and will really begin to collaborate to further your company’s goals.

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