The 10-Step Guide to Define and Execute Your HR Strategy

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HR Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for HR pros

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Designing and implementing a successful HR strategy can help you get the best out of your people and drive your business to better results.

Article 4 Minutes

If one of your top priorities is to get maximum value from your people, you need a well-defined HR strategy that's relevant to the unique needs of the organization.

The process of evaluating and redefining your current HR strategy, or building a new one from the ground up, is no small undertaking and might seem like a daunting task.

It's wise, therefore, to take a phased approach and view your strategy planning and execution as a series of distinct steps.

1. Understand organizational strategy

One of the fundamental prerequisites of a successful HR strategy is a clear understanding of the organization's overarching plans, priorities, and objectives. By making the company's ultimate goals your guiding light when planning for HR, you ensure that the department's work serves the needs of the business as a whole.

Truly understanding the organization and its various challenges and opportunities will involve taking a broader look at wider market forces and trends.

2. Ensure executive backing

Another important early step in HR strategy planning is ensuring the support of executives and decision-makers at the top of the business. You don't want to dedicate resources to devising and implementing your plans without having complete confidence that the C-suite is behind you.

This support will prove invaluable when the time comes to execute your strategy and you need the entire workforce - from new recruits to senior leaders - to be onboard.

3. Build a clear picture of the HR function

A strong HR strategy is dependent on a clear picture of the HR department's key functions and responsibilities. While this might sound simplistic, it's vital to have complete clarity over which tasks fall under the remit of HR.

Will your team encompass payroll, for example, or is that the job of the finance department? How much say will you have in hiring and firing decisions? Answering questions like these will help you develop a fully relevant and effective strategy.

4. Establish HR skills and competencies

What are the essential skills and capabilities you need in the HR team to execute your strategy and fulfil your role within the business? This should be a key consideration when drawing up your departmental strategy, since you need to have complete confidence that you can turn your plans into reality.

Conducting a skills analysis will highlight any gaps that need to be filled through training or recruitment.

5. Identify workforce gaps and capabilities

Since one of the most important jobs of the HR department is identifying and procuring the skills the company needs to succeed, your strategy planning should also include an audit of the workforce as a whole.

This should seek to highlight where the company is already well-prepared in terms of available skills, where there are gaps in capabilities and the actions you can take to fill them.

6. Set guidelines for acquiring and retaining talent

Analyzing existing capabilities and skills gaps will inform an essential part of your HR strategy: planning talent management to help the business gain maximum value from its workforce.

The guidelines you create to compete for talent, nurture skills within the workforce and retain existing staff should reflect the organization's future goals. They should also cover recommended ways to source talent - whether it's preferable to recruit or develop from within.

7. Design services for workforce segments

Workforce segmentation is another important part of HR strategy, because it puts you in a better position to plan and tailor HR services for particular segments, which might include:

  • Employees
  • Managers
  • Executives
  • New hires

Dividing the workforce into groups such as these will help you come up with clearer ideas around the specific needs of each segment and the HR programs and services that will benefit them the most.

8. Plan your implementation

Once you're satisfied you have dedicated enough thought and planning to the various components that make up your strategy, you need to think about implementing and executing it.

You might want to consider the benefits of gradual implementation. Rolling out one new service or process at a time will help employees get used to the changes and also make it easier to address teething problems.

It's also important to remember that your HR strategy needs to be flexible enough to meet the evolving needs of the business.

9. Assess your service delivery model

A key consideration linked to the launch of your strategy is whether your HR service delivery model is up to the standard required to meet the organization's objectives.

The process of analyzing your delivery model could include definitions of specific roles and governance mechanisms, as well as the various systems, processes, and infrastructure that support the provision of HR services.

10. Measure and improve

To make your HR strategy as successful as possible, you need to measure its impact and identify areas where you can make ongoing changes and improvements to deliver the best results.

Bearing in mind the fundamental business goals you identified at the start of your strategy planning, use targeted metrics and key performance indicators to measure your progress towards these objectives.

This will help you draw data-based conclusions about the effectiveness of your HR strategy and how it could be improved to benefit the company as a whole.

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