Blog: Pruning - Need of the HR

Strategic HR

Pruning - Need of the HR

It's no more about cutting down as organizations need to look at a more holistic approach for resizing or re-strcuturing
Pruning - Need of the HR

What does an organization need to execute a business strategy for? The ubiquitous answer to this question is its ‘talented’ workforce. The next question that arises is how to keep the talent aligned with the business strategy? Many thoughtful discussions have been done by subject matter experts to find a plausible solution to this question followed by unrelenting research studies, but the magical answer to it is still an elusive one. We still find the talent system of many organizations’ not appropriately aligned with business plans and properly focussed on business success.

To overcome this problem, what comes to mind is an interesting verb - “Pruning” which may come out to be useful for several reasons. According to, the verb “Pruning” means to reduce especially by eliminating superfluous matter, to cut off or cut back parts of, for better shape or more fruitful growth. I think “Pruning” can be useful in the context of business, because in this age where M&A has become a norm, it can be expected that the organizational strategy has to be revisited and readjusted considering the organization as a lattice structure. According to The Wall Street Journal, GE plans to prune its businesses which amongst other things, involves exit from few businesses to improve profitability and open the door to acquisitions if opportunities can add “unique value”.

I feel that HR should also increase their “Pruning Quotient (PQ)” to strategically contribute in running the organization optimally. The pruning decisions should be based on reliable data source, its target group/business outcomes and the mapping between the two. Organizations are complete and whole, sometimes they just have to come into alignment with its elements. PQ can be used to balance out the resources, talent requirements and structure in different areas of business. PQ can shift the focus on having a right mix of talent (critical resource for competitive advantage) pertaining to its number, skills match, expectations and accessibility to increase productivity. Developing PQ may mean that we may have to cut down or just have to whittle a department away to save money or trim down the branches of the organizational tree or ramping down an operation or just become profitable by sticking to your knitting. So HR has to localize the issues in the overall global scenario and be future ready by sharpening their “Pruning” skills.

Not all organizations need pruning (seen as idempotent structure with respect to its main operation) but they can be pruned to some extent. While some organizations need to be pruned hard when some of its businesses are laggard, others may be harmed if pruned excessively. PQ can be useful to manage expectations when goalposts are shifting by re-aligning resources, re-assessing requirements, rebuilding experiences and relationships to yield faster results in this dynamic environment.

Whilst talent has been recruited, retrained and developed, yet it has to be understood that it should be seen in conjunction with the business requirements. The Web 2.0 tools provide a great way to connect to the millennial generation. But it can be disadvantageous if not handled with caution. Here PQ can be applied for privacy management, moderating the levels of engagement and social media governance to better track results on the social platform as well.

So, “Pruning” is an “optimistic approach” that removes inefficiencies in the system. It brings consistency in business operations by including those elements that add value. Thus, Pruning is the need of the hour and “Need of the HR”.

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Topics: Strategic HR, #ChangeManagement

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