Human Resources is dead, welcome to the Business Resource Group.
Mar 11, 2015
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On a recent business trip to India, I had the pleasure of spending time with one of my colleagues’ clients, and was surprised on a number of levels by their human resource function. I have worked with businesses and executives from all over the world for many years, and am always fascinated by the learning opportunity it presents and the difference in organisations and their culture; this one in particular offered some great insight.
Perception is reality
On approaching the office of the Group HR Director, the first hint of difference was the department name as it was not titled “Human Resources”, but “Business Resource Group”. You may ask what is in a name and often the answer is very little, however in this case the change was to represent a significant shift to a proactive P&L lead business area. Perception became reality and today Human Resources is a significant contributor to the business and has a seat at the top table involved in every strategic decision.
The right person for the job
Talent is one of the biggest limiting factors for any business, it could therefore be argued that second to the CEO, the role of human resources is the most important in the company. Rarely is this the case and more than often due to lack of real business world experience, human resources is held at arms’ length. It is seen as a support function rather than a strategic enabler. It is therefore not surprising that the HR Director of this particular business, or should I say the ‘President – Business Resource Group’ was not from the Human Resource profession. He had in fact been a CEO of a fast growing business and had successfully hired and developed many staff over the years being both familiar with talent and business alignment. As a result he had instant credibility as he could identify with real business issues of the executives, and human resources as a result gained a seat at the top table. Although this is an extreme example of a change in leadership type within the human resources community, the point is that businesses should see human resources as a strategic career development area key to the success of their business. More professionals should be encouraged towards this career path and executives should be directed to spend rotations in this functional area.
Success favours the bold
In times of difficult economic environments the natural thought is to cut cost, reduce overheads, and reel in the hiring strategy. However if you draw an analogy with sport, do you not field your best team when faced with the toughest opposition? This client asked the question “Which top eight businesses do we most respect in the business community?” From there they went to market and recruited the best individuals they possibly could when their competitors were cutting headcount. In creating a bench strength of great talent during the recession, their business was equipped with “super subs” meaning the business was ready for any eventuality. Although there was an initial cost associated, they felt that these individuals would identify opportunities and add value which meant that cost would not be a factor in the medium term. They were not wrong and within a short time new opportunities the return on investment was apparent.
Proof is in the pudding
During the five years of global recession, this client had put in place the enablers for them to not only ride the storm, but to grow through taking market share and developing new lines of business. At the heart of this strategy was the change in the human resources organisation and as a result the business has enjoyed compound growth of 20+%. Welcome to the “Business Resource Group”.