Thursday 26 January 2012

Ed Lawer on HR (presenting at the HR Directors Business Summit, part 2)


    HR has been trying to become a better business partner for some time in order to help deal with the challenges I listed in part 1 of this post.  And we do seem to think we’ve made some progress:


However Lawler’s team have also looked at what HR actually does, rather than just what it thinks it does, and this isn’t such good news – particularly, supporting the conclusions of the recent CHRO study, in the UK and rest of Europe (though actually the UK has the best results for HR acting as a full partner in business strategy rather than just taking an input role):


This is important because it’s the strategic business partner role that provides by far the greatest input to business success.


In improving on these results, HR’s structural model has been one of the major change in organisations.  The major problem has been HR functions going native – only thinking about their line of business, not the corporate as a whole.

Organisations are trying different things eg double hatting but this generally ends up with everyone feeling schizophrenic – above and beyond their sanity.

A better solution may be to give HR a wider set of issues, eg this example from a US company – helping to deliver a terrific EVP etc.


There are also actions we can take to upgrade HR’s capabilities and structure:


Ie, to achieve these benefits we may need to break HR out from the function responsible for Organisation Effectiveness – allowing this higher function to be strategic and analytic – as otherwise it always gets taken over by transactional work.

I think there was some great analysis in this presentation (I often use some of the data in my workshops but haven’t seen the 2010 results before) and I’m partly pursuaded by the conclusions – in fact I referred to and supported these in my own book.  I do believe in the need to focus both strategy and structure on organisation effectiveness:

“Strategic contributor to business strategy development and implementation based on considerations of human capital, organisational effectiveness, and readiness.  Developing HR practices as strategic differentiators.”


However, I’m not totally convinced we need to separate HR from the OE function.

If I was ever to go back into corporate ‘people management’, this OE one is the one I’d want to have, but I’d ideally like to retain responsibility for the HR function too, so that I don’t have to do everything through influence but also have some of the most direct levels for improving organisational effectiveness under my own control.

Your thoughts?



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