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Why HR and OD are Important? Pt. 1

While in the process of starting a new business or running an established one, managers and leaders often divert their attention to the more traditional functions of business operations. These include marketing, finances, IT, logistics, and the production of a product or providing a service. More often than not, the areas of human resources and organization development (HR/OD) planning are left out of the equation. The reason for this may be because of the antiquated perception people have about HR functions. They may view these HR functions as being relegated to individual employees which may include activities such as hiring, pay and benefits, or filing out employment documents (W-4, I-9, etc.). From my perspective HR/OD functions should be part of the strategic planning and normal operating processes of any organization. They have profound impacts on the organization’s health. 

Why are establishing sound HR/OD foundations important in the strategic planning and daily operations of so many organizations?

Staffing

For any organization to be successful, it takes the right people in the right positions. People who lack the required skills or attitudes can damage a company’s reputation, which is more important than ever in today’s rating world. Treating customers poorly, lack of product or service knowledge, being unfamiliar with processes can result in the delivery of sub-standard products and services. This is not the way businesses want to start their journey.  

These problems can be mitigated through sound staffing processes. This is not a one-time event. It should be an ongoing process designed and used to recruit, select, and retain the people best suited to help your organization be successful. When you have an effective staffing process in place it can be adapted for changes in the workforce environment and can be used repeatedly with confidence in its ability to help you effectively staff the talent your organization needs. 

Using an effective staffing process also makes it less susceptible to bias. Some biases may include being selected because someone likes them, they have similar interests, because they know them, or finding other attributes that engender them with person making the selection and hiring decisions. This is not to say that personality or likeability does not play a factor, but it does so from a more objective standpoint. That is, they are chosen primarily because that have the requisite skills and knowledge and they are likeable. Using an objective means to acquire talent may also have legal benefits as well, especially as they apply to EEO, ADA, and IRCA laws. 

Performance

Performance management programs provide many benefits. One such benefit is codifying established standards which employees are required to meet. These can include metrics like the number of widgets that need to be produced within a specified time frame or what constitutes acceptable behavior when interacting with co-workers, clients, and customers.

Performance management is the continuous process of identifying, measuring, and developing the performance of individuals and teams and aligning that performance with the strategic goals of the organization. This framework contributes to the organization in several ways.

  1. The motivation to perform is increased when people receive feedback about their performance.
  2. Information is obtained about how they are performing and recognizing the successes they have achieved provides a catalyst for future success. 
  3. Managers become more knowledgeable about their subordinates. Having conversations about performance allows leaders to discover more about the people they are supervising. It helps to:
    • Establish a rapport and in so doing enables you to learn more about what an employee might need to do a better job
    • Identify what truly motivates him/her
    • Uncover ideas they may have to improve an organizational function, product, service, etc.  
  4. Self-insight and development are enhanced. Employees are more likely to become more aware of themselves and the types of development activities that are of value to them, as they progress and/or move through the organization. They will also get a better idea of their strengths and weaknesses.

These are just a few of the benefits of a sound performance management program.

Employee and Leadership Development

Employee and leadership development programs, if designed properly, enable individuals to develop important skills related to their current job function and allows them to grow personally. Some programs might include self-awareness training or communication development, which may not be related to the employee’s current job but helps to prepare them for future job opportunities and can even improve aspects of their personal life. 

Leadership development programs help individuals in leadership positions increase effectiveness in known skills and allows them to learn new skills that enable them to become more effective leaders and improve employee productivity, communication, and create work environments where employees want to work and thrive. 

Organizational Culture

Establishing a healthy organizational culture is another benefit of designing and implementing sound HR/OD foundations. It helps to ensure that when appropriate systems, processes, and people are in place the results are a healthy work environment where people feel informed, and secure in their work. There is a climate of cooperation and healthy ethical competition.  

Teamwork is enhanced, thereby increasing creativity and ingenuity thus, providing a competitive advantage for your organization. When a healthy organizational culture is created it helps employees feel more in tune with their work and connected to the organization. There is an increased sense of pride and engagement in their work which can serve to improve personal relationships outside of work. 

This can improve relationships with the communities in which organizations operate, providing ways to better interact with them. A positive presence in the community can help with finding needed talent, providing different perspectives, and new ways of thinking. When there is a healthy organizational culture, employees are more likely to act as ambassadors for your organization, bringing in new clients/customers, and opportunities to partner with other organizations and interact with the community.  Organizational culture also impacts employee retention which helps organizations retain a workforce that has already acquired skills and expertise needed for that organization. In a healthy organizational culture, there are fewer surprises, because there is an air of trust and openness. Employees are better informed about events that impact the organization in both a positive and negative manner. When there are fewer surprises it increases a sense of stability and security within the organization. 

In healthy organizational cultures, people are civil and respectful to each other. They engage in better communication and discourse. They feel their opinions matter and when this happens, there are more opportunities for people to build on each other’s ideas, identify problems, and develop new innovative and lasting solutions. Which leads to the ability for an organization to learn and become a “learning organization”. 

Organizations that can be agile and adapt to an ever-changing environment will be the ones that will be successful. This is because these organizations will be able to learn from their mistakes and failures, as well as, their successes. They can do this because they have systems and processes in place that are beneficial to individuals, teams and the organization as a whole. They view learning as a strategic and competitive advantage. They have made it a part of the organization’s normal operations – not a one time or occasionally event. It is a continuous process of reflection, learning, sharing, and using what was learned. Processes are in place to collect information about project successes and failures or product and service quality. What was learned is then analyzed, codified, and shared with the rest of the organization making it easier for individuals and teams to reference and use the information to help them with current problems, become more knowledgeable about a process or system, or address difficulties they may experience in the future. 

These are just a few of the advantages in establishing sound HR/OD foundations.

Drop a comment below and let us know what you think.

More in part 2 of this series coming soon.