Creating the indispensable HR function

Date01 March 2005
Published date01 March 2005
AuthorSteveSPHR MirandaGPHR
Subject MatterHR & organizational behaviour
32 Volume 4 Issue 3 March/April 2005
UCH HAS BEEN SAID and written
recently about how HR must shift its
focus from transactional to strategic,
from operations expert to thought leader,
and from short-term reactionary to long-term visionary.
Much has also been written about the need for HR
practitioners to become business savvy, possess subject
matter expertise in a variety of areas, and have an aura
of personal credibility.
All of these points are perfectly valid. However, when
it comes to describing practical ways in which the
average HR organization moves from a status of
member of the team” to “indispensable,” many HR
professionals are at a loss on how to both start and
sustain the process. Sometimes, this inability to start is
rooted within HR itself. For example, if the HR
executive team doesn’t dedicate collective “think time,”
it won’t find frame-breaking approaches to critical
business issues. Other times, the inability to sustain
buy-in from key business leaders leaves members of the
HR function feeling as if they are second-class
members of the leadership team whose input is
tolerated but not valued.
Regardless of where the fault lies, the indispensable
HR organization must have at its core the fundamental
belief espoused by Rudyard Kipling who said, “We
have forty million reasons for failure...but not a single
excuse.” What follows are five non-traditional
approaches (see Figure 1, right) senior HR leaders can
take when contemplating how to increase the
indispensability of their function to the business.
1. Eliminate HR – selectively
It’s a fact – one of the hardest things for any of us to
stop doing is something we feel we do well. The reason
this is so difficult is because when we do something
well, we seldom ask ourselves whether we should be
doing it at all. HR organizations fall into this trap,
often re-doubling their efforts in areas of expertise
when what’s really needed is for them to abandon these
areas altogether. When trying to identify which parts of
HR should be eliminated, it’s useful to focus on three
major areas:
a) Administrative processes that were created for a
different era. (An era, by the way, that depending
upon your business could be years or only weeks
ago). A good way of sifting through a massive list
of your HR processes to identify potential targets is
to ask three simple questions for each process:
When was this process created? Why do we do it
this way? What would really happen if we didn’t do
this at all?
b) Wor kflows that have been computerized instead of
eliminated. Also known as “paving the cow-path,”
this action results in the spawning of a high volume
of supposedly very quick transactions, all of which
require employee time and attention. Examples
by Steve Miranda
Creating the
HR function
Five ways to ensure HR is central to the
success of the business
When it comes to describing practical ways to
transform HR from transactional to strategic, many HR
professionals are at a loss on how to both start and
sustain the process. Here, Steve Miranda details five
non-traditional ways to ensure your HR function
becomes indispensable to the business.
© Melcrum Publishing Ltd. 2005. For more information, go to or e-mail

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