Three crucial lessons for human resource and organisational development professionals (these remarks inspired by Dave Ulrich, Human Resource Champions, Harvard Business School Press, 1997):
- Deliverables: "HR should not be defined by what it does, but by what it delivers -- results that enrich the organisation's value to customers, investors, and employees." As an individual contributor, focus less on what you do and more on what you deliver. At the end of the day, no one cares if you are going to "write content" or "facilitate sessions" or teach on-line versus in the classroom. They will care, however, if you are going to help increase sales, cut costs, help others bring more projects in on time, or improve quality of work life. So understand the results you are trying to achieve for your organisation (your "deliverables") and stay focused on those results -- in selling, designing, implementing, and assessing your programs.
- Strategic HRM: all HR activity (including workplace learning) should help an organisation achieve its vision and strategic objectives, whether directly or indirectly. That is, all HR activity should be "strategic." It is therefore crucial that you understand precisely how everything you do (everything you deliver) contributes to the attainment of your organisation's mission, vision, and strategy. Otherwise, how can you put a value on your work, and how can the organisation value your work? Note, however, that contribution can be indirect. For example, improving quality of work-life can have a substantial impact on the bottom line by reducing errors & accidents, reducing absenteeism & turnover, and improving productivity & customer service.
- Know the business: in order to make the biggest positive impact on and add the most value to your organisation, you must know the business and you must know how your work will impact the organisation. How can you help your organisation achieve its mission, vision, and strategy? Make sure you understand:
- Your organisation's mission, vision, strategy, and culture
- The key drivers of business performance in your industry
- The needs and expectations of your organisation's customers
- Your organisation's core competencies and competitive advantage
Act like a specialist but think like a generalist!