Strategic HR Weekly "Sales" Tip #52
Being Strategic Is not Optional...
If you read Hank Jackson's (SHRM's CEO) "From the CEO" article (Being Strategic Is not Optional) in the November issue of HR Magazine, evidence is presented that progress is being made, with 66% of surveyed companies having HR on their board of directors; two-thirds of respondents having a written HR management strategy; and "the majority" of HR departments remaining involved in the development of business strategy.
So why, when I poll VISTAGE CEO's - a group that one could argue is ahead of the curve in pursuing business excellence and success - do they grade their HR function out at an average of 2.8 out of 10, and 85% of them say that their HR function has no (zero, none) participation in company management?
Well interestingly, the median size of the 693 companies that responded to the survey Hank referred to was 750 employees. There are about 18,500 businesses in the US with 500+ employees, which represents 0.31% of the 5,930,000 businesses that are employers. The remaining 5,911,500 businesses (99.7% that provide about 49% of private sector employment) have less than 500 employees, and I'll bet you 90% of them are still answering the HR question like my VISTAGE CEOs.
So where does the "strategic HR progress" at larger firms leave the employers of hundreds of thousands of smaller firms (<500 employees)?? At an even a bigger competitive disadvantage to those large firms when it comes to their "people assets". That's where.
Where does it leave HR Consultants who have the desire and wherewithal to provide "strategic HR" to SMBs? With a HUGE business opportunity!!! One could easily argue that it's even more critical to business success to have optimum "people performance" at a small business than at a larger one. If you employ 25 folks, and 3 or 4 of them are subpar, that's 12 to 16 percent of your workforce! That's huge, unless you don't mind flushing wasted wages down the drain.
One of the biggest mistakes I hear when I train HR Consultants on business development, is their tendency to very quickly assume that real small businesses won't understand and/or don't have the time for "strategic HR". I get it. I didn't just fall off the business turnip truck. I've been selling HR to SMBs since 1987, and I know they're often running like mad with their hair on fire, just to stay afloat.
But I'll also say that if you can earn a potential "trusted advisor" status with prospective clients, and you can follow through with tangible results if you win the business, you'll be seen as someone the client business can't operate without. It's okay to solve some of their immediate "HR task" problems if they have some, but if that's all you do or offer, you won't be furthering the profession's strategic HR pursuit Hank addresses in his article.