Is your HR a positive or negative business activity?

HR as a business activity started at a time when work was transactional and leadership was ‘command-and-control’. Policies and processes were the order of the day. As a result, the purpose of HR was to ensure compliance with those policies and administer the processes. When problems occurred, HR (or more likely “Personnel”) swung into action, resolving matters efficiently and effectively.

Today, while addressing problems is important, if the HR efforts are primarily focused on fire-fighting, a business is unlikely to see the gains it could by attending equally to positive, strategic HR areas of focus such as culture.

Peter Drucker, the well known management consultant and creator of great management quotes, is thought to have said “culture eats strategy for breakfast” (the reality is, of course, that you need both!). Many owners and managers underestimate the importance of culture yet wonder why their teams struggle to execute the strategy.

What happens within the business (such as leadership, communication and behaviours) must be aligned with the product/service offering, the customer perspective, and the external brand to create organisational strengths that can be leveraged for business success. Disregarding this connection can result in dysfunction and competitive disadvantage, which no business owner wants.

Online tools such as enableHR allow businesses to streamline their HR administration and ensure compliance with their employer obligations. They support a more proactive approach to HR and management, by providing (among many other things) a simple structure for performance and development discussions so that the emphasis gets back to what it should be: a meaningful conversation centred around strengths and opportunities, rather than a dreaded form-filling exercise.

I sometimes wonder if managers like to keep HR at an administration and compliance level to lessen their own workload. It stands to reason that a greater focus on leadership, communication and behaviours will result in greater demands placed on everyone in the business, including managers. But this doesn’t happen in isolation – it is accompanied with training and development. It is important for businesses to invest in their managers (and for managers to invest in themselves) in order to build the leadership skills that are needed in today’s world of work: how to shape the future, how to make things happen, and how to engage and develop people.

We believe it’s time for all New Zealand businesses to move forward with their approach to HR and management. A progressive approach to HR is no longer the sole domain of big corporates and government departments. We work with our clients to create an HR plan that supports their business goals. Then together, we make it happen. Let’s talk about what can be achieved in your business with a greater focus on culture while the administration and compliance is taken care of.