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Internal Strategic Consulting in a Human Resources Job

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You are not alone if you think that businesses fail to appreciate the contributions of people in human resources jobs. But there is a big possibility that you are more ready to accept the stereotype situation than to break out of it. This article shows that transition from a transactional role to one of a strategic consultant is needed for the entire human resources team. It is only when the HR team succeeds in the role of an internal strategic consultant that the organization insists on an HR presence at the strategy table instead of ignoring it.

The HR Team Needs Retraining before Others Do

Over the past decades, scores of human resources managers have proven themselves to be business leaders and have been accepted as equal partners with line managers when it comes to developing organizational and business strategy. As such, failure to achieve an equal seat at strategy tables may have more to do with the human resources department itself than one might be ready to admit. It is quite possible that human resources analysts, the very staff who carry out your mission, are still holding on to the traditional, transactional mindset and require retraining before your department can truly evolve into a strategic business partner.

Traditional versus New Roles of HR

Traditional HR professionals focus on recruiting, training, pay, and industrial relations. These functions are transactional in nature and are typically measured in volume. Most human resources departments still focus on the transactional parts of their job - filling vacancies, maintaining employment records, and running open enrollments.

However, if the HR department wants to be seen as a business partner, the entire HR staff must understand what being a business partner means, and every member of the HR department should be involved in the process. Internal HR consulting embodies an array of knowledge, a set of defined skills, a shift in attitudes, and a new way of thinking about HR's role. Strategic, consultative HR professionals focus on the strategy and the culture of the organization and contribute in creative ways to influence productivity and effectiveness. Many HR leaders give up on their employees even before initiating a shift in approach for fear of such issues as:
  • most HR people have not worked outside of the HR function;
  • most do not have the background in information technology; and
  • most do not have business degrees.
The bottom line is that very few HR professionals are prepared or are preparing for their new role as strategic business partners. HR leaders successful in making this shift educate and prepare their HR staff members to make the transition methodically instead or resigning to barriers.

A Methodical Approach for Developing Your HR Team
A methodical approach to developing HR staff for this role includes the following elements:
  • Clearly defined jobs for internal HR consultants: The traditional job of the analyst is redefined to include consultative skills. This may include a redesign of the HR professional's career path within the organization.

  • Strategic missions for the HR department that include consultative approaches

  • Formal training programs for internal HR consultant staff development

  • Feedback on performance, including consultative skills

  • Individual development planning based on feedback: Analysts in the training program should receive feedback on their current consulting skills. In turn, HR staff professionals should create individual development plans for improving these consulting skills.

  • Coaching, mentoring, and continual feedback on consultative skills

  • Job rotation: Internal HR consulting requires the HR professional to understand all processes and systems within the HR department. Job rotation is an effective method for learning these systems and processes and for building team cooperation and support.
Without a systematic approach for helping HR staff members to acquire a consultative skill set, the traditional, transactional, quantifying mindset is bound to prevail. Cutting-edge HR leaders develop a structured approach to help their HR staff make the shift. They do not allow the traditional HR staff's existing skills and perspectives ruin the quest to lead at the strategy table. They train their staff, develop them, guide them, and keep on enhancing HR function until the HR department truly becomes a strategic partner of the business leadership.
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 HR professionals  organizations  HR  consultants  developments  theory  contributions  HR department  business partners  businesses

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