Designing HR Strategies: Problems vs. Opportunities

designing hr strategies

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There is an old saying, “Every solution contains the seed for the next set of problems.” Throughout my long career in human resources, I have found this to be especially true. Examples I have experienced include senior management dictating “We need more sales!” Salespeople scatter and achieve their goal, only to learn operations can’t keep up with all the orders. “Hire more people”, is followed by insufficient space to house additional staff. “Start using suppliers”, another battle cry, impacts lower standards, order shortages and profits take a hit. Sound familiar? It helps to know that every time we solve a problem, we can anticipate another ‘opportunity’. Instead of seeing it through the lenses of endless frustration, one can view it as incremental steps toward continuous improvement. 

As human resource professionals are aware of the vicious cycle of “problem, solution, opportunity, problem, opportunity, and so on. When we recognize and anticipate both the benefits and complications of every decision, we know there is no “Happily Ever After”, but rather steps for continuous improvement. The Japanese have a word for this, “Kaizen”, which is a concept referring to business activities that continuously improve all functions and involve all employees from the CEO to the assembly workers. It also applies to processes, such as purchasing and logistics, that cross organizational boundaries into the supply chain. This concept has been applied in healthcare, psychotherapy, life coaching, government and banking.

In the arena of HR, our greatest value is to strategically help the organization become aware of current and future work trends. Jointly, we identify the most critical issues, diagnose potential solutions, and recommend actions that can be taken. We can then monitor the action plans and make necessary changes along the way.

If all of this sounds like a never-ending treadmill, just know there is light at the end of the tunnel! In the arena of HR, our greatest value is to strategically help the organization become aware of current and future work trends. Jointly, we identify the most critical issues, diagnose potential solutions, and recommend actions that can be taken. We can then monitor the action plans and make necessary changes along the way. As we near the solution line, we anticipate where the next steps are now
needed to correct the previous problem. It’s not a bad thing, it’s a process not a means to an end. In making small, continuous changes caused, in part by the issue we resolved. Take the emotion out of it and see it as a means of continual growth and development rather than the end solution. By helping your organization maximize benefits to understand these processes are creating a climate for
continuous improvement. We can be most effective by keeping ourselves up-to-date on what is happening locally, nationally, and globally. Another way to access strategic information is to join organizations where you can network and /or attend education programs. Learn your organization’s strategic plan and identify areas where HR can play a role. Finally, embrace the respect and importance of human resources as it relates to helping your organization move through the unpredictable and volatile economy. When you align your commitment with the ever-changing business needs, your contribution will be recognized and respected.

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