If You Want to be a Strategic-Minded HR Leader, You’ve Got to be Doing This

We all know HR leaders hold a critical role in any organization. They’re the hub for all things people — the most important asset of any business.

Yet despite this, many HR professionals struggle to be seen as the truly strategic partners they are.

One reason is this: they’re not effectively demonstrating the impact of their work — especially as it relates to their company’s business results.

Sure, in areas like total rewards strategies and talent acquisition metrics that impact can be more readily exhibited — but demonstrating the effectiveness of their approach to continually satisfy the people and leadership needs of the organization? That’s a lot more difficult.

So how does an HR leader measure the impact their work, including the programs they’ve initiated, have on business results? How does an HR leader show the ROI and the return on expectations (ROE) that will differentiate them as a truly strategic partner?


They focus on the following four things:

1. They consistently link people strategies to business results and strategic goals.

For example, if HR is proposing that select high-potential women participate in a women’s leadership development program, that people strategy starts with the identified business result of diversifying ready-now talent for key positions, which in turn will help the organization meet its strategic goal of global expansion.

Likewise, if HR is acquiring talent that has diverse backgrounds, passions, capabilities, and problem-solving approaches, that people strategy starts with the identified business result of increasing the organization’s stream of innovation, which in turn will help the organization meet its strategic goal of diversifying and growing its’ revenue streams.


2. They develop a measurement plan for their proposed initiatives.

Nothing measures impact like actual measurements! A strategic HR leader lays the groundwork for program success from the very beginning, by creating a vision of success or desired outcomes, identifying what metrics will reflect those outcomes, what data will need to be collected, and how they’ll collect it. An effective measurement plan is proof-positive that your initiative is providing ROI (and that you are, too!).


3. They understand how critical employee well-being is for success.

Truly strategic HR leaders understand the implications and interconnectedness of all the people-related experiences within their company, and its impact on employee well-being. Maintaining the pulse of their organizational well-being and taking measures to improve it wherever they can — such as investing in and supporting programs that improve the quality of manager/employee relationships — is one of the most beneficial things an HR leader can do to boost employee engagement and productivity, achieve business results, and demonstrate ROI.


4. They coach their business partners, not just manage them.

Because of their wide reach across an organization, HR leaders have a valuable perspective that few others in the company have. This perspective makes them rife to be effective and impactful coaches with their client groups, potentially helping them improve work performance, deepen engagement, navigate challenging issues, and strengthen communication and relationship skills. By sharpening their coaching skills — or investing in a coaching program that teaches these skills — an HR leader greatly increases their strategic presence and impact.


Rosanna Riffle joined CRN in 2015. She has over 30 years’ experience in the Human Resources field, including talent management, organizational development, and organizational design. She’s also a certified executive and leadership coach.

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