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Home > Business > Special


Key rules for HR managers

Neel Ratan | May 23, 2007

Developing a people function strategy and running specific HR sub-functions are two different activities that require different approaches.

I am a 37-year-old senior manager of a newly set up bank. I have been brought in with the mandate of developing a forward looking and robust HR function for the organisation, including building the HR team. While I have more than 10 years of solid experience in HR operations and team management, I can't seem to get a grip on how to go about defining the HR function for my organisation. How do I go about setting a direction and defining the specific focus areas for a new HR function?

This is a commonly faced situation for managers who are transitioning from an operational role to a leadership role in organisations. A good starting point is to realise that developing a people function strategy and running specific HR sub-functions are two different activities which require different approaches.

While senior business managers are expected to develop a vision for organisations to build the business strategy, the HR vision stays a mere document. It is important to begin with a blue-sky vision of how the HR function will address the 'employee lifecycle'. The key focus is on defining a vision which is achievable, and supports in making the business idea successful.

HR managers also need to take precautions to ensure that their vision is aligned to specific business objectives; that it is not defined on the basis of an HR leader's overzealous attempt to have best practices learnt in previous experiences applied to the 'new organisation'.

To be able to build an HR infrastructure which is completely focused on business success, HR managers need to ensure focus on some key rules from the initial stages:

  • Build business cases for making any and every investment in the HR function.
  • Define the timelines, key activities, the resultant benefits and impact of not having specific programmes / activities in the employee lifecycle management function.
  • Ensure that the day-to-day activities in the HR function are distinctly divided into function development and compliance activities, at the outset. This will ensure adequate focus on short term as well as medium term results.
  • Involve key business managers when making decisions on focus areas of the HR function over the short as well as the medium term.
  • Lastly, the HR function needs to develop specific programmes to create a definitive culture in the organisation at the time of starting up. That is the best time to ensure desired behaviours are institutionalized before these can be cascaded over a larger workforce.

The author is executive director, PricewaterhouseCoopers. This column appears once in four weeks, and readers may address their queries to: powerzone@bsmail.in.



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