What is the Role of a HR Director? Part 1 – Capability Builders

CRF’s fundamental belief is that HR is not about HR – it’s about the business. We are not HR Business Partners; we are part of the business. HRDs do not represent the HR function on the leadership team. Rather, they are corporate directors whose role is to ensure the business can deliver its strategic vision.

This implies that the purpose of HR isn’t to do HR ‘stuff’ but to build the capability of an organisation to deliver its strategy and create sustainable value for its key stakeholders. If this is the case, then we must have an effective approach to defining what capability is – one common model so when we work as one HR, we have one common language. There are many capability models, all of which have value, but on our programmes we use McKinsey’s 7S model. It is a core tool used by any strategy consultant or internal strategy person. It should be a core tool for HR as every element of the model is about people and organisation.

So, what is the 7S model?

Strategy – The model puts strategy at the centre, as the driver for everything else. The model then explores the implications of the strategy for:

Staff – How many people will be needed? Where? When?

Skills – What are the technical skills they will need to deliver the strategy? These are often sources of differentiation.

Style – If skills are the ‘what’, then style is the ‘how’. It is not enough when dealing with customers to deliver a solution; you have to deliver it in the right way. The challenge is it’s easier to develop skills than it is to develop style, but it’s easier to assess skills than it is to assess style.

Systems – We don’t just mean IT, we mean how our HR systems, performance management, comp and ben, our management systems, budgeting, planning and so on, are aligned with the strategy.

Structure – How many layers, reporting lines, where the power in the organisation lies, how empowered employees are, and so on are questions of structure.

Shared Values – What on earth are shared values? We have replaced shared values with culture, so the 7S model becomes a 6S and 1C model. Culture is ‘how things are done around here’ or even better ‘what people do when you’re not watching’. Being the cultural gardeners is a key role for HR.

I often hear HR people say their role is ‘right people, right place, right time’, but it’s so much more than just people. HR’s role is to create the capability to deliver the strategy. It’s about people, but equally it’s about the organisational context you create for them to perform in, so everyone can be the best they can be. This is the value of the model, as it repositions HR as a strategic partner delivering great people and a great context in which they can create value for our customers.

The model is also a good framework to help HR shift the conversation with our line leaders from ‘what do you want HR to do?’ (a question which can so easily lead them down a rabbit hole as they misunderstand HR’s strategic role and end up with a list of transactional issues they want fixed) to ensure they are not just creating a great strategy but are creating the right aligned capability to deliver it.

Do you want to learn more about how you can build capability to ensure strategy delivery as an HRD? Join the CRF Learning Effective HRD programme on 3-4 June at Brooklands Hotel, Weybridge. Further details and pricing available here.

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