HR Needs to LEAN Up

Recently we’ve been working with organizations on implementing LEAN and Six Sigma. Now before you bail out on me, this blog won’t be about either of those topics…directly. As most of you know, Cirrus is all about helping organizations create shareholder value and become great places to work. One way that value is preserved is through organizational efficiency. That’s why I love the LEAN concepts. Here’s where this impacts HR.

Yes, you should work towards efficiency in all processes across the organization (including HR), but that’s not what I want to focus on here. One of the exercises you go through regularly as part of LEAN is to define the components of the customer value chain. This is a critical exercise, because it brings into sharp focus the features, functionality, and/or services that are truly adding value in the eyes of your consumer. The result is alignment.

Alignment is extremely powerful. Organizations need alignment as much as our bodies and machines. With alignment, efforts are multiplied as the organization begins resonating on the same frequency.

As an HR professional, one of your key functions should be facilitating organizational alignment based upon the culture and objectives of the organization. This alignment should permeate everything from job descriptions to the way performance reviews are conducted.  You should ask yourself how you can work with the rest of the executive team to multiply and reinforce their efforts in creating clarity around the behavioral expectations of your organization’s culture and the organizational objectives.

Compliance is important and critical, but it should not be the primary focus of your HR organization.  Employment laws and EEOC compliance simply define the rules of the game.  The primary role of HR leadership in an organization should be that of human capital optimization, talent development, and talent planning based upon the organization’s objectives, NOT the embedded arm of the EEOC or other labor agency.  You would not expect the CFO of an organization to focus exclusively on compliance with GAAP and tax law.  An effective CFO manages the financial aspects of the organization based upon the organizational objectives within the rules of GAAP and law.  GAAP and tax law  just define the rules of the game.  They affect strategy, but they are not the focus of strategy.  This concept is a major leap for most internal HR organizations, but a very important one.

You should also determine ways to quantify the effectiveness of various HR initiatives.  Put your MBA hat on for a moment.  It is important to measure the return on investment for your your department and any development, hiring, or other initiatives you are implementing to help create clarity and alignment in the organization. This will help you zero in on the initiatives that have the highest organizational impact. You should also be able to clearly state how those initiatives align with the current organizational objectives.

HR professionals, start thinking about how you can be a facilitator of alignment in your organization.  This is where you can add true value to your organization’s value chain.

It’s time for us to all to LEAN up.

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