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HR: From the Back of the Line to a Strategic Partner

Telephone Conversation:

Me: “Good morning, I want to speak with the company’s human resources manager.”
Company: “Yes, one moment, I will connect you with the payroll department.”
Me: “We’re off to a bad start.”

We know that the world continues to change. It always has, but the speed at which it does now is dizzying. Companies face challenges they never had before. They still need results and productivity, but they are out of the game if they do not incorporate innovation, globalization, constant change, development, talent acquisition, and retention. On the other hand, professionals live in an uncertain, unstable, and insecure ecosystem, with great external pressure to be productive but great internal pressure to be happy and feel fulfilled.

However, every cloud has a silver lining, and this is the perfect breeding ground for the HR department which, despite the crisis, moves from being a mere personnel manager, dealing with payroll, vacations, and hiring, to a strategic partner that acts as a catalyst between the company’s needs and the state of the workforce.

The challenge for HR to become a strategic partner within the company is to put human hands and feet to “what we want to achieve” and “how we will do it,” which are the executive heart of the company, i.e., the sum of environmental analysis, values, strategies, goals, and action plans, etc. HR responds to “with whom” we will do it, “why” we will do it with them, and “how” we will measure it.

From this perspective, HR must help the company move from reactivity to proactivity. It must encourage and even demand that the company periodically review its heart, this strategic “what and how,” as the only way to keep human capital aligned with what is truly intended. It must communicate effectively through a concise plan to motivate human capital. It must have tools that assess, measure, and demonstrate that the policies it implements are helping achieve the goals.

As a strategic partner, it has two lines of action: vertical and cross-sectional. The vertical line includes designing the human fabric through job profiles with key indicators of contribution and talent, implementing result-oriented assessment processes, and ensuring a person-role fit through behavior profiles and plans to identify, develop, and retain talent. In its cross-sectional line are motivational communication, transformational leadership, facilitation of change, and a culture of constant development and feedback.

In this sense, the most effective methodologies and the most innovative talent assessments, combined with new technologies, are put at the service of HR departments to objectify their decision-making and give visibility to their contribution to the company. These tools, like the ones we provide, give a new dimension to selection processes, training plans, development and communication, talent management, and team analysis and management.

Companies that do not evolve their conception of viewing their team as staff or employees, in short as “human resources,” and not as professionals or values, or in other words as “human capital,” and utilize new tools, assessments, and technology, will be marked in the next decade. It is that clear.

Ignacio Rubio Guisasola

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