Article: Changing role of HR - From a business partner to an anticipator


Changing role of HR - From a business partner to an anticipator

HR has evolved from being a business partner taking orders, into an anticipator with a proactive approach to business
Changing role of HR - From a business partner to an anticipator

“Aa Dekhen Zara” – I can’t help remembering this movie when I sat to write this blog. Though this was not a Box Office favorite, this movie spoke of how the lead Hero found his grandfather’s invention which had the ability to take a picture and predict the future. Imagine if you had that power to predict the future and take corrective steps today to proactively manage the future.

Careful what you wish for!

In our new Global Leadership Forecast 2014|2015 we asked HR professionals like you, if they felt that their roles have evolved over the past few decades and here are some interesting findings.

I have personally witnessed at least two dozen conversations if not more over the last several years on “HR having a seat at the table.” Between the 50’s and 90’s the role of human resources was more of a “Personnel Management” who was more of a reactor, but in the last decade and a half, a new word “HR Business Partner” was coined, famously known as HR-BP. This person acts as an important link between HR and different business units. Organizations have spent a fortune to move the HR-BPs from being an “order taker” to the one who can partner and ask questions connected with the business need and help address HR issues of that department more efficiently. The role of a partner is very different from that of the reactor’s role which was more around only managing policies, compliances and payroll.

The good news - we found out that only 24% of HR professionals in India label themselves as reactors. Interestingly this number is not far off from what HR professionals responded globally. In India ‘Small and Medium Enterprise’ is a dominant segment and many Indian business houses have started adopting sophisticated HR practices but there is a long journey to cover and still scope to improve overall as this role is increasingly on a decline with the evolving role of HR. Around 59% saw themselves as partners. This role is here to stay for some time as I see many organizations are still investing in this skill for their HR-BPs. A common gap that organizations find with this role is their ability to influence others and ask business specific questions that help understand the impact of their deliverables.

So, where did the remaining 17% go?

We at DDI would like to label this new role as anticipators. These professionals like to anticipate the future. Wonder if they saw the movie before? They have taken a step ahead and are setting the table rather than having a discussion about earning a right to sit at the table.

The anticipator does two things differently from their fellow colleagues who are reactors or partners. First, the probability of them being involved in the strategic planning process is very high. They know that talent planning is an integral part of business strategy and it cannot be disconnected from the business strategy. Research by PWC shows a strong link between business strategy and leadership capability building. They are inseparable from each other. Second, they are likely to use predictive talent analytics more often to help them take people decisions. I hear anticipators say “Aa Dekhen Zara”, how can we work on your talent today to help realize the business strategy in the short to medium term.

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Topics: Leadership, Strategic HR, #ChangeManagement

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