HR professionals always have a question on their minds – “How do we maximize the effectiveness and impact of our HR programs?” And it is a valid question to ask in an environment where business executives are constantly challenging HR to demonstrate value. In their quest to maximize effectiveness, HR leaders scan best practices, tinker with them and adapt them (hopefully) to their organisations.
However, “best practices” are not necessarily the ultimate panacea for HR. In fact, adopting best practices without adaptation or ensuring its relevance to the organizational context can be damaging. Instead, we need to think comprehensively about 3 key aspects to make HR programs effective.
HR Program Design: The fundamental building block of an effective HR program is its design. Designing the right program / process using strong business & inter-disciplinary skills is the first task. Subsequently, HR would need to ensure that all its programs have high levels of integration and synergy among them. For example – does the competency development program integrate with talent management and workforce planning programs. And, defining the right success metrics is critical too.
HR Program Delivery: The second factor is whether HR is set up to deliver the programs effectively to the business. Is the HR function structure effective in delivering the program? Does the HR function has the right set of capabilities? Are roles for Centers of Expertise and HR Business Partners clearly and effectively designed, so that there is little ambiguity about how HR delivers the program? Does HR have the right set of technologies to deliver the program?
HR-Business Partnership: The most well-designed HR program will fail if HR & Business are not partnering effectively. If HR cannot effectively support the line implementation, the effectiveness of the program is bound to suffer. Similarly, if the business is dominated by leaders who are “Talent Sceptics” or “Half-Hearted” talent champions and show a lack of accountability for people management, then the effectiveness of the program will suffer.
Now, one may ask how important are each of these 3 factors or what is the priority. Research tells us that all three have almost equal impact on overall HR Program effectiveness – HR Program Design (32%), HR Program Delivery (34%) and HR-Business Partnership (34%). In fact, if we combine the last two, we see that over 2/3rd of the program effectiveness is a function of HR-Business interaction. Solving the design problem is only part of the solution.