Welcome to Business-Centric HR!

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com/stockphoto-graf

Welcome to my blog everyone!

I wanted my introductory blog post to highlight why I chose to call this blog ‘Business Centric HR’. There’s much debate over whether HR should be essentially business-centric or people-centric, as though they are mutually exclusive terms. I, for one, don’t think they are.

In the other view people-centric is perhaps seen as the ‘heart’ of HR – ensuring that HR serves the employee in the most positive way possible.  I’m all for the heart of HR.  My thesis, and why I’ve termed my blog and approach as business-centric – is that the only way to get to the people/heart of HR is within context.

And that context is the business.  If HR practitioners don’t really understand the business the employees are in, it is very hard to provide the information, advice and programs that most support productive pathways for those employees.

So to me, business-centric HR is the means to contextualise people-centric HR.  They are like two sides of the same coin.

What this means in practice is understanding there is no one-size-fits-all HR approach. There aren’t any shortcuts to analysing business need.  There aren’t any fully developed HR program suites that fit all business and workforce types – and any that might claim to exist are probably a lot like ‘vanilla’ versions of IT software – the rabbit hole of massive and costly, time consuming customisation the unsuspecting can fall into so easily.

Better to do that all up front and build a fit for purpose design rather than endlessly try to redesign something that looked easier at the beginning.

How can you help build a high performance agency if you aren’t clear what high performance is in the context of what the business is trying to achieve?  How can you ensure a productive and inclusive culture without knowing what the employees will be doing each day?  How can you properly remunerate and reward employees outside of a clear articulation of what they are required to bring to the table and how that fits into the broader workforce marketplace?

I’ve seen many HR interventions – while very well intentioned – that fail simply because they’ve tried to shoehorn in an approach to a new environment that worked in a previous one without fully understanding what is common and unique between the two environments.  I’ve also see fundamental HR foundations, such as performance management systems, intrinsically fail because too little work is put into ensuring the design fits the workforce profile and too much into ‘simplifying’ it all to the point none of the employees recognise themselves or their roles in it.

The good news is, the business-centric approach doesn’t have to be massive in either time or expense. There is, as noted above, both common and unique elements to all business environments, and the experienced HR practitioner can quickly identify what aspects of the business context fall into each.  As long as they do that work upfront, and focus on the business, they’ll get to the effective programs and the people-centric benefits quickly enough.

So this blog, and my consultancy, are completely unapologetic about putting the business analysis first, before HR strategy is developed and implemented.  It isn’t losing the people. It’s trying to fully understand them in context so you can speak to them in a language that they can relate to and work with.

It’s all about context. It’s all about understanding. Get to those, and the rest will follow.

What do you think? Do we risk losing the heart of HR by focussing on the business, or is that the best way to make sure we reach it?


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