Many people view human resources (HR) as the person or department that takes care of procedures and compliance—things such as compensation and benefits, employee assistance, and labor relations. But that’s only part of the story. In order to add significant value to an organization, HR must enable the execution of strategy through building organizational capability. This is a role that cannot be automated or off-shored. It comes from an intimate knowledge of an organization’s strategy, its existing capabilities, and future talent needs.
In close partnership with his Cabinet, the Bridgewater State University (BSU) president had just completed a strategic plan and immediately recognized the importance of deepening the role of the university’s HR function. While HR played an integral role in caring for people’s engagement, compensation, and benefit needs, the vice president of HR realized that the new strategy demanded both new talent and new requirements for leaders who were managing people. BSU did not have a consistent approach to talent management—that is, ensuring that the right people with the right capabilities were in the right positions, in the right areas of the organization, at the right time and place. Leaders also did not have mechanisms in place to more broadly understand the skills and capabilities of its staff, and to calibrate talent from a university-wide perspective. Finally, the HR function itself needed to be redesigned to align with the strategy—from recruitment to development, retention to performance management.