Change the Processes

October 23, 2012 by Wally Bock

This weekend, I spent some time with the latest BCG report on global HR: “Creating People Advantage 2012.” If talent development is important to you, download a PDF of the report (registration may be required) and dig around for the nuggets it contains.

One nugget for me was the discussion of perceptions of the effectiveness of HR executive performance in different areas. Non-HR executives judged HR executives’ performance as worse than the HR executives judged their own performance. No surprise there. That’s human nature at work.

The area I was most interested in was labeled “Transforming HR into a strategic partner.” Two things struck me. The first one was that the judgment only went one way.

Non-HR executives got to judge their HR peers, but the HR executives didn’t get to return the favor. That says to me that, despite any other rhetoric, business executives see this as a problem that’s just for HR. But, if it’s really a business problem, then it’s everybody’s problem.

The second thing I noted was that the discussion was all about changing people. Training was suggested. Working on attitude was implied. But nobody mentioned process. Companies that do great talent management integrate business processes and HR processes.

Consider the following from the book The Talent Masters: Why Smart Leaders Put People Before Numbers by Ram Charan and Bill Conaty.  Note that the people review (Session C) is tied to the strategy review and the operating review.

“Session C, along with its follow-ups, is the core of some half a dozen meetings and processes spread over each year that drive the GE system. The two others that play major roles in developing leaders are S1 (now called the Growth Playbook), which is the strategy review held in the summer, and S2, the operating plan review in November, which is combined with a Session C follow-up called C2.”

That’s what strategic partnership looks like. It happens when you tie processes together, not when you exhort the other person to change.

If HR is going to become a true strategic partner it won’t happen if it’s all up to HR. If HR is going to become a true strategic partner it won’t happen if the emphasis is on fixing people and not on fixing processes. Change the processes and you change the result. Don’t change the processes and you get what you’ve always gotten, but with more noise.

Wally Bock is a coach, a writer and President of Three Star Leadership.

Posted in Talent Management

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