In today’s post, CAI’s HR Business Partner Tom Sheehan shares the importance of HR professionals staying focused on one or two projects at a time rather than spreading themselves too thin.
Because of its inherent support role, the HR function and its leaders typically have a strong service orientation. That means that as ‘opportunities’ to support and serve the business are brought forward, there is a certain eagerness to please the customer. HR professionals frequently struggle to identify and prioritize which HR projects to push forward to the organization.
Because of the desire to please, HR teams typically conduct too many initiatives, often with mediocre results. Conducting too many projects dilutes the effectiveness of each initiative, and wastes valuable resources.
When deciding which HR initiatives are top priorities, answer these three questions:
- To what extent does this HR initiative further the key business objectives that have been laid out for the organization?
- If we decide to move forward with this project, what project or initiative must be bumped or moved down the priorities list?
- Can we articulate a true return on investment on this project?
Here are the most typical projects that the HR team may undertake:
- Improving leadership development
- Implementing new technology
- Restructuring the organization
- Delivering on recruiting initiatives
- Measuring and improving workforce performance
- Enhancing employee engagement
At the end of the day, HR professionals and their teams would benefit greatly by ‘doing less better.’ That may mean selecting one or two projects to focus on and delivering outstanding results on each of them. Do not move on to the next project until the current project is fully executed and has had a chance to take hold. Being able to stand your ground and appropriately push back when being pressured to take on a new initiative is often a key success factor.
Nothing will ‘short-circuit’ your credibility more quickly than a series of half-delivered projects with mediocre results. The ‘customer-requested’ projects should of course be added to the master list of projects and prioritized appropriately. The master list should include dates and timelines as well, and undergo periodic review with the leadership team.
Frequently, HR leaders are challenged by the business with a ‘critical’ training opportunity for the problem du jour. The expectation by the customer is that HR drop everything and hastily complete the training project. This ‘drop everything’ approach to training is frequently misguided and should also be weighed against existing priorities and projects. It is critical to remember that there is an opportunity cost associated with every project. Never allow a new ‘discretionary’ project to come at the expense of delivering on the strategic promise.
If you think you may need help rethinking your department’s priorities, please give our Advice & Resolution team a ring at at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.