HR leadership roles set to be a business game changer

Human Resources (HR) directors and talent management teams have an integral role to play in helping to lead the digital businesses of today. Part of this includes analysing the data at their disposal in more innovative and strategic ways, as companies look to maximise the value contained within their talented workforce.

The rapid evolution of technology and the accelerated accessibility to data is forcing many organisations to realise the value that can be extracted, and insights gleaned from taking a data-driven approach to all facets of the business. This includes how companies attract, develop, and retain their people. Business requires HR, and other professionals, to start using this to their advantage.

Talent is the most valuable asset organisations have in today’s world, and particularly in the professional services arena where people and their expertise form the core of the business offering and ultimately define their competitive advantage. Research shows that 76% of hiring decision-makers say attracting quality candidates is currently their greatest challenge.

The 2019 PwC CEO Survey found that “availability of key skills” rose to the third most critical threat on the minds of CEOs, with 34% flagged as being “extremely concerned”. Moreover, the number one impact noted by 55% of respondents is the ‘inability to innovate effectively’, followed closely by ‘higher than expected people costs.”

So, while HR and talent management professionals are in the privileged position where they have been entrusted with this most precious asset and positioned as the perfect strategic partners to the CEO, it is not without its challenges.

The top HR professionals from around the globe, ponder questions like: How to be the employer of choice for top candidates, how to reward and create opportunities for the highest performers, and how to build leaders out of its people.

Breaking the mould

Despite the strategic importance talent holds for an organisation, the traditional image of talent management and HR functions is marred by several stereotypical perceptions. These include images of bureaucratic, reactive administrators who are stuck in the details of process and policy. Another stereotype is that HR is too focused on the soft and fluffy, rather than the business goals, hard numbers, and aligning to the greater business strategy.

This results in HR not having a seat at the table in strategic conversations, and even worse, business leaders often feel that they need to conceal new ideas from HR until they have worked out the details and launched the initiative.

To overcome this, HR leaders are required to embark on an ongoing process to break the cycle and position themselves as business leaders, trusted advisors, and counsellors to fellow business leaders, and valued strategic thought-partners to share the heavy load placed on the CEO.

Knowledge partners

This process entails balancing these roles with the more traditional expectation of people functions being reliable supporters and enablers for the business.

Given the wealth of data the HR and talent team has access to, they can be pro-active in analysing the business and identifying the gaps that exist. So often, HR is a reporting centre of excellence, but this is approached in a “get the work done” way with limited attention paid to interpreting the information and data.