Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New role for HR in disruptive times

The business environment marked by disruptive change has led organisations to acknowledge the need to redefine their mantras of effectiveness. Organisations have seen a shift in power from themselves to their customers. So how does an organisation deal with this almost tectonicshift in the context it operates in?

Even within an organisation, a division could see a similar shift in its own importance in the context of changing business needs. How can such divisions grapple with new expectations?

Hitherto line managers were expected to handle customers, deliver service to customers with their relationship skills and product knowledge. These managers now find that they are required to display a host of new skills. They are now expected to display the ability to understand the new business environment and fine-tune their management style to adapt to the new paradigm. Managers are being called upon to coach and mentor their team-mates to help them perform to their capacity rather than set targets and monitor performance.

HR departments hitherto watched from the sidelines and performed peripheral tasks that supported the business. HR professionals now find themselves being thrust into roles which they had never experienced or had the capabilities for. They are being required to understand business, appreciate the key issues that the business is working with and even anticipate the kind of needs that the business will have going forward.

What is the key to success for an organisation that grapples with a change, the division that sees centrality to the organisation being challenged and the HR person who attempts to deal with vastly changing tasks and expectations? The answer is - Being relevant.

The organisation will prosper if it continues to be relevant to the customer, the business division will stay central to the organisation's future if it recognizes the changed needs.

The HR function and HR executives can become critical to the company if they leverage the opportunity that vastly changing roles for all the constituents in the company presents to them. HR has an opportunity to become the most strategic resource of the company.

HR can deal with the changing circumstances by understanding the key drivers on the human performance dimensions. By virtue of their ability to determine what every person in the company requires in terms of input, they are ideally suited to both understand as well as implement this. They can thus, equip the managers to help cope with the new challenges and imbue them with the skills, knowledge and behaviour required to be successful in the changed situation. This will naturally place the HR manager in a new light and be seen for the value he offers to the business mangers to become more effective. The opportunity for HR to be strategic is brighter than it ever was. It is for the more clued -in among HR managers to grab the opportunities and become absolutely relevant to the business. They now have the mandate to walk down the road less travelled and to shape organisations and find their place in the sun.

Ref: Times Ascent

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