Sunday, November 30, 2008

HRM in tough times

I have been asked over the last few months to write about HRM in tough times and to change presentations and executive education programs to focus on the current business climate. I can do that, but what's interesting about these requests is that even if I change the title of what I'm talking about, I continue to teach and present the same material.

That is because I am convinced that the issue we should be focused on is not what HR does differently when times are tough but what HR should be doing differently ALL THE TIME.

How long will we continue to talk about HR moving from administrative to strategic before realizing that HR in tough times and HR in good times is just plain old HR being strategic and paying attention to the times - all the time.

Any high caliber HR function today should be totally in sync with the changing nature of the business environment. This is, by the way, NOT the same as being aligned with strategy (which for some reason continues to be the big focus for HR).

Perhaps it is the mantra of strategic alignment that has lulled many firms into complacency by thinking that internal alignment makes them so strong they can weather the storm of the changing business conditions.

I continue to think HR should be less worried about alignment and more concerned with environmental scanning and realignment. What better way to inform your management team of the changes that are happening 'out there' than by being in better communications with employees who are talking to clients, suppliers, partners, and other stakeholders?

HR teams that find sophisticated methods for tapping into employees knowledge will be able to do the right things in tough times; they will anticipate tougher and better times and be able to help the leadership team continually change tactics and strategies when needed.

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