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HR: The top performers

13 Jun 2016 - Blog

5 things high performing HR teams have in common




The Australian office of Odgers Berndtson (executive search company,) recently conducted some primary research to understand which key characteristics determine high performing HR teams. At People Insight, we’ve found this fascinating, and pretty much spot on in terms of the successful clients we’ve worked with.

Have a look at the summary below.

1. Strong commercial acumen makes HR central to key decisions

HR teams should comprise all HR backgrounds – from strategy, project management, technology – and to have a deep understanding actually doing various roles rather than theoretical understanding. Placements in different areas of the business, and exposure to a wide range of business metrics help you to learn to look beyond just HR outcomes.

“You have to understand the business and the financials, because you have to be seen to understand what people are working towards and the pressures the businesses are facing. It adds to your credibility and your level of engagement with the business.”


2. Customer focused. Actively contributing to the big goals of the organisation

Great HR teams can go beyond the operational reporting to the strategic thinking. Key hallmarks of a good HR team are responsiveness, agility, collaboration, a self-managed team and individual accountability.

“People think you’re just payroll, hire and fire if you aren’t responsive. We’re not the soft touchy feely brigade here for a hug, we’re here to drive the business forward.”


3. Measuring success by business outcomes

High performing HR teams put measures in place to achieve the wider business goals and demonstrate they are working to the same goals.

Combining people data and commercial data to demonstrate the impact of say, manager development on store profit margin shows commerciality. Understanding what people behaviours drive the organisation’s innovation agenda, for example, can help create change that improve business objectives.

“We can help with diversity, inclusion, flex work practices, behaviours and culture….it’s not enough that it might be a nice thing to do – we can show it’s about the employer value proposition.”


4. Deliver a great employee lifecycle of experience that is aligned with the company vision and strategic plan

HR must recognise the employee’s needs: like a greater desire for flexibility, for contributing in a meaningful way, career development. Employee surveys, pulses and enterprise social networks are great channels for the employee to speak with the business, as is the good old fashioned face to face and walk around. Showing how employee needs can be integrated with business aspirations will meet the needs of leaders.

“HR is often seen as aligned with management – and we are – but ultimately it’s about whether employees have a good experience at work. Are they treated with dignity, are we developing their careers, do our leaders care about them? HR can influence that and maybe that’s something that’s not front and centre for managers.”


5. Act as the voice and conscience of the organisation as well as great leadership coaches

Leading HR teams are not ancillary to the business mission,  they take ownership around people practices and challenge vocally when something is not right. The best HR departments have the trust of the CEO to such an extent they can fearlessly share the challenging feedback they most need to hear.

Alongside this, to build the capability, most leading teams have a number of development programs in place and invest significantly in training and development.

 “If an HR director is going to be really effective, you have to make yourself one of the loneliest people in the business – you need to be able to stand above and to the side in terms of objectivity, more than anyone else. HR needs to be the one who will have the rough conversation – and it takes balls. But other leaders look to us to have that tough conversation.”


View the original article here.


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