How Do We Teach HR People To Be More Business Savvy?

In the wake of the social justice movement and COVID-19, diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) has never been more important, both as a business driver and a way for organizations to connect with their increasingly diverse workforces.

Without the ability to speak the same language and approach business problems from a variety of directions, HR will remain a reporting and compliance organization. To become a strategic business partner, HR must be aligned with, and work the same way as other departments. Yet, a recent Brandon Hall Group study showed that HR departments still seek to improve the linkage between what they do and broader business goals.

When businesses say that people are their greatest asset, they usually mean it. Yet, if those assets cost more than they should (due to turnover or lowered engagement), nearly every department across the business suffers. Organizations striving to remain competitive in a highly volatile market must be assured that their most valuable assets are as efficient as possible.

For HR to create more business-savvy approaches to organization-wide issues, there must be a systematic approach to people and HR strategies. Key questions HR organizations should address include: 

  • How do we create an organization-wide strategy around HR that is aligned with key business objectives? 
  • What training can be developed for HR professionals to gain business acumen? 
  • Who should be accountable for HR strategies to ensure alignment? 
  • What are the Key Performance Indicators that HR is looking at now and what should they focus on instead? 
  • How will we measure success, i.e., when do we know when our HR team has become more business-oriented? 

HR is no different from any other part of the business and should be treated as such. It has internal clients and should handle them the same way sales and account management treats external clients. 

A business plan should be created that outlines the strategy, goals and implementation of HR’s plans, similar to other groups. That business plan should have: 

  • Current business conditions 
  • Current and Future needs of the business 
  • SWOT analysis (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities Threats) 
  • Case for change 
    • People
    • Processes
    • Technology
  • Goals and objectives 
    • Action plan for achieving each goal or objective 
    • Measuring progress toward each goal or objective 
  • Budget 
  • Governance model 

Making a business plan is not only good practice to encourage HR team members to think as other line-of-business employees, it also allows HR to use the same terms and objectives as other units, which gives them a common language. It also reinforces HR’s commitment to overall business goals. 

Brandon Hall Group Strategy Briefs answer the critical questions learning, talent, HR and business leaders must address to manage their human capital. To tackle these critical questions in more detail, we built tools, frameworks, research summaries and business builders based on up-to-date research and case studies for you to implement best and next Human Capital Management (HCM) practices. To gain access to these valuable resources, contact [email protected].

Leading minds in HCM choose Brandon Hall Group to help them build future-proof employee-development plans for the new era. For more than 27 years, we have empowered, recognized and certified excellence in organizations around the world, influencing the development of over 10,000,000 associates and executives.

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Mike Cooke

Chief Executive Officer of Brandon Hall Group Mike Cooke Prior to joining Brandon Hall Group, Mike Cooke was the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of AC Growth. Mike held leadership and executive positions for the majority of his career, at which he was responsible for steering sales and marketing teams to drive results and profitability. His background includes more than 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, management, and operations in the research, consulting, software and technology industries. Mike has extensive experience in sales, marketing and management having worked for several early high-growth emerging businesses and has implemented technology systems to support various critical sales, finance, marketing and client service functions. He is especially skilled in organizing the sales and service strategy to fully support a company’s growth strategy. The concept of growth was an absolute to Mike and a motivator in starting AC Growth, in order to help organizations achieve research driven results. Most recently, Mike was the VP and General Manager of Field Operations at Bersin & Associates, a global analyst and consulting services firm focused on all areas of enterprise learning, talent management and talent acquisition. Tasked with leading the company’s global expansion, Mike led all sales operations worldwide. During Mike’s tenure, the company has grown into a multi-national firm, conducting business in over 45 countries with over 4,500 multi-national organizations. Mike started his career at MicroVideo Learning Systems in 1992, eventually holding a senior management position and leading all corporate sales before founding Dynamic Minds. Mike was CEO and Co-Founder of Dynamic Minds, a custom developer of software programs, working with clients like Goldman Sachs, Prentice Hall, McGraw Hill and Merrill Lynch. Also, Mike worked for Oddcast, a leading provider of customer experience and marketing solutions, where he held a senior management position leading the company into new markets across various industries. Mike also serves on the Advisory Board for Carbon Solutions America, an independent sustainability consulting and carbon management firm that specializes in the design and implementation of greenhouse reduction and sustainability plans as well as managing the generation of carbon and renewal energy and energy efficiency credits. Mike attended University of Phoenix, studying Business Administration and Finance. He has also completed executive training at the Chicago Graduate School of Business in Chicago, IL.