For HR teams, establishing a strategic foothold in an organization takes time. It’s the result of a comprehensive, concentrated plan that features an array of tactics and processes designed to prove the strategic value of the HR department—and it doesn’t happen overnight.
One of the first steps in the strategic journey for HR is becoming visible. Having the voice of HR heard, respected and integrated into strategic discussions can only come after people see the HR department as more than a side office that signs and cuts checks, which is, unfortunately, often the default view.
But how, exactly, can HR become more visible? One way is to be proactive about it. Here are three ways we think HR departments can be more proactive:
1. Preempt the Crisis
If HR is viewed as a passive department, it will be treated as a passive department. And passively treated HR teams are only called upon in times of crisis.
One way to be proactive is to change this dynamic. HR teams can actively work with their partners across a company to be informative and useful in ensuring operations run smoothly before any major failures even occur. For example, by taking the time to read into and stay ahead of legal requirements as they relate to the business, rather than changing the practice after laws are implemented, HR can put itself on the radar of department heads quickly. This is especially true across organizations where laws are complex and subject to frequent change—HR teams here get seen as a partner that understands the legal environment rather than just enforcers.
2. Put the Business Before HR
While the base functions of the HR department should never be treated casually, having members of the HR team focus on core business tasks can pay huge dividends in visibility. Having HR team members understand how operational departments contribute to the organization’s strategic objectives can establish a degree of familiarization that can lay the foundation for greater alignment and impact.
For example, if the organization has a global presence, regularly spending some time to inform the HR departments in each global location of pertinent information that may impact those regions can help substantially. It keeps the HR team ahead of the curve. Most importantly, when any issues arise in those regions and employees reach out, the HR team doesn’t need to run through elementary questions and fact finding to be effective in solving problems.
3. Be Active!
And finally, if staff perception of employees and other business leaders is that HR is a role that is involved in a lot of administrative tasks and work behind closed doors, it’s likely because HR professionals spend too much time behind closed doors. It’s time to change those perceptions.
Getting out of the office to participate in company events and meetings, and to interact with employees at all levels of the organization, can help to change these perspectives. How do you know if your efforts have had impact? Perhaps through higher positive impressions of the HR function measured through employee climate surveys, or through fewer numbers of complaints from employees.
Of course, while extremely helpful, proactivity is just a tactic on the road to visibility; there are many more considerations, strategies and means to explore when it comes to establishing the kind of visibility that will generate desired results. Find out more insights from our full report, How HR Can Become a Business Partner: Having an Active Role.