The role of a HR professional is transforming at a fast pace and no longer is their function limited to operational duties. In organizations that strive towards resilience, agility and customer-orientation, HR professionals are expected to wear multiple hats. Dr. Dave Ulrich, author of Human Resource Champions and professor at University of Michigan, writes that HR managers and executives are expected to take on the roles of: a strategic partner, an employee sponsor or advocate and a change mentor. The HR professionals who understand these roles are leading their organizations in areas such as organization development, strategic utilization of employees to serve business goals, and talent management and development.
Let’s take a look at each of these roles and their impact on HR functions and practices.
In today’s organizations, to guarantee their viability and ability to contribute, HR managers need to think of themselves as strategic partners. In this role, the HR person contributes to the development of and the accomplishment of the organization-wide business plan and objectives.
This strategic partnership impacts HR services such as the design of work positions; hiring; reward, recognition and strategic pay; performance development and appraisal systems; career and succession planning; and employee development. When HR professionals are aligned with the business, the personnel component of the organization is thought about as a strategic contributor to business success.
To be successful business partners, the HR staff members have to think like business people, know finance and accounting and be accountable and responsible for cost reductions and the measurement of all HR programs and processes.
It’s not enough to ask for a seat at the executive table; HR people will have to prove they have the business savvy necessary to sit there.
As an employee sponsor or advocate, the HR manager plays an integral role in organizational success via his knowledge about and advocacy of people. This advocacy includes expertise in how to create a work environment in which people will choose to be motivated, contributing, and happy.
Fostering effective methods of goal setting, communication and empowerment through responsibility, builds employee ownership of the organization. The HR professional helps establish the organizational culture and climate in which people have the competency, concern, and commitment to serve customers well.
In this role, the HR manager provides overall talent management strategies, employee development opportunities, employee assistance programs, gain sharing and profit-sharing strategies, organization development interventions, due process approaches employee complaints and problem-solving, and regularly scheduled communication opportunities.
The constant evaluation of the effectiveness of the organization results in the need for the HR professional to frequently champion change. Both knowledge about and the ability to execute successful change strategies make the HR professional exceptionally valued. Knowing how to link change to the strategic needs of the organization will minimize employee dissatisfaction and resistance to change.
Organization development, the overarching discipline for change management strategies, gives the HR professional additional challenges. Consciously helping to create the right organization culture, monitoring employee satisfaction, and measuring the results of organization initiatives fall here as well as in the role of employee advocacy.
The HR professional contributes to the organization by constantly assessing the effectiveness of the HR function. She also sponsors change in other departments and in work practices.
To promote the overall success of her organization, she champions the identification of the organizational mission, vision, values, goals and action plans. Finally, she helps determine the measures that will tell her organization how well it is succeeding in all of this.