Last week I attended a funding competition where I "pitched" my $trategic HR Management $olutions ($HRM$) software business plan to a group of angel investors (the lowest level of venture capital funding, other that friends and family). As I left the session, two things jumped out at me worth sharing in this week's Strategic HR Tip.
First, it was a stark reminder of just how challenging it is to compellingly convince an audience of high level business people just what effective strategic HR might mean to a small-to-mid sized business (SMB), AND that there's a practical down-to-earth methodology to creating and implementing a plan. Admittedly, the conditions were a bit extreme. We had only 15 minutes for our pitch, and it was strongly recommended that half of that be for the program overview (hitting 6 key parts of an investor funded biz plan - problem, solution, target market, funding, financial projections, and exit plan), and half for Q&A. I had practiced for several days before hand, and had gotten my pitch down to 9 minutes - basically 5 on "the HR part", and 4 on the rest of my plan. At the end, I could tell I hadn't knocked it out of the park. Probably a good solid double, but not a homerun.
So swinging this back around to HR Consultants and Practitioners "pitching" the need for a Strategic HR plan to the C-suite... You'll probably have a lot more than 5 minutes in most cases, but make sure you stay laser focused on the business results you're promising, so your audience learns exactly what's potentially in it for them. Strategic HR is big. Not quite as big as, say, defining the universe. But close.
The second big Tips material thing was the 1st question I got when the Q&A started.
"Rob, HR's perceived as such a squishy value in many businesses. You mentioned employee productivity (EP) here earlier. That's EXTREMELY hard to measure in many business models, and especially in the knowledge economy. Have you solved that holy grail of the HR world?"
I wished my answer could have been a resolute "Yes!", but unfortunately not so. So I explained to the gent who asked the question that, where EP can't be easily measured, the next best thing is to have created a mindset amongst stakeholders of the company that the organization should do everything possible to maximize productivity - addressing culture issues, engagement, trainings, goal setting, succession, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc.
But the devil's in the "etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc". In many SMBs, if HR were asked EXACTLY how they'd maximize EP, most could probably come up with only a dozen or so things that would help impact it. Nowhere has there been a source / tool (until now) that could hand them a list of 84 things that could impact it. With that type of information, HR is much better equipped to carefully consider ALL the possible pieces of a solution, in developing the best custom plan that fits their company's situation.
... the "holy grail of the HR world". Never heard it put that way before!