For a long time, many in business have been critical of human resources for, in a sense, not being a team player. That is, HR has been accused of not aligning its operations with the overall strategy of the company.
According to HR executive J. Craig Mundy, now more than ever human resources need to support the overall direction of the company because of the increasing pressures facing businesses – pressures to grow, pressures from customers who want the best in service and lower costs, and pressure to attract and retain the best workers.
But this alignment isn’t happening, and part of the reason for that is human resources often doesn’t get any orientation that might help. As a rule of thumb, Mundy suggests, that human resources look at its mission in terms of friction and flow. What creates friction is anything that makes it harder to get customers. What creates flow is anything that eliminates obstacles to better performance.
It doesn’t matter what kind or the size of the company, Mundy says. The general rule of friction and flow applies. So, if you work in human resources, whenever you are starting a new project or procedure, you need to ask yourself whether it will create friction or flow for the business.
One reason why the friction and flow template is so foreign to human resources lies within HR itself. Too often human resource staff members assume that employees at the company need to follow HR guidelines in order to make sure that HR can perform its duties, which may or may not coincide with the company strategy. This actually is the reverse of the way things should operate – rather than having employees conform to HR practice, HR practice needs to conform to the practices and procedures that enable employees to perform their best.
As an example, Mundy talks about attracting, developing and retaining the best talent. Normally, human resource departments spend the same amount of time on each hire. But this may not be the best way to go about enhancing the company strategy. Rather, he says, HR must focus its energy on those people who are crucial to the strategy and growth of the company, and spend more time on the hiring and training and retention of those people.
If, for example, the company wants to expand into emerging markets, that’s where human resources needs to spend the bulk of its efforts.