Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 28

HR as a Strategic Business Partner

HR and the Strategic Process

Critical to HRs function as a strategic partner is their role in the strategic process. Not only is it important for HR to participate in the corporate strategic planning process to further its understanding of business needs for the upcoming year, it is also important to align its own calendar and focus with the corporate agenda to support HRs position as a strategic partner. Key questions to ask HR to ensure they are a key player i n the organizations strategic process: 1. What organizational capabilities must our organization have to gain and/or maintain a competitive advantage? 2. What knowledge, skills and abilities do our people need to successfully execute our business strategy? 3. How do we create an HR strategy that sets an agenda for how HR will help our company succeed?

Developing Leaders
Reviewing performance and recognizing the potential of leaders are strategic keys to a companys future. In best-practice organizations, the ability to deliver the results outlined in the strategic plan is balanced with an appreciation of a persons potential for further growth and development. A review of both these variables is a serious and regular part of the strategy process. Values and competencies are the foundation of leadership development. Best practice organizations begin the process of developing leaders with a foundation of key corporate values and then focus on key competencies that grow out of the value base and the strategic mission.

Recruiting and Retaining Talent

Instilling values and developing employees abilities is only one part of HRs job of assisting capable individuals to grow and develop their talents. Recruiting and retaining talent is an important priority for best-practice companies. Best practice companies understand the importance of attracting and retaining top talent because of the belief that getting the right people on the bus is likely to lead to better employee performance and long-term business success.

Recruiting does not start or end with hiring. The process begins with a carefully thought through identification of what kinds of skills will be needed to execute the firms emerging strategic goals. The process continues with a crafted on boarding process that then links to assessment and developmental activities. Some firms do a risk assessment to determine which critical people are most likely to leave the firm either because of limited internal opportunities or external offers that provide greater opportunities for advancement. Best practice firms identify from 5 to 20 percent (10 percent seems most common) of their managers as high potentials and provide them with extra opportunities for development.

Assessing Success
Recognizing the importance of the HR-business strategic partnership, leadership development, and recruitment and retention of talent can lead to company improvements. But how can firms measure changes in individual performance? Nothing reinforces strategic objectives more than measurement and ties to incentive compensation. While some common measures are used by best practices firms, the key assessment items vary significantly according to the strategic emphasis of a given firm. Measurements are compared historically, internally, and externally. High performing firms want to show progress from year to year in their key performance measures. Comparing current and past scores on concepts such as reduction in turnover rates, recruiting costs per hire or employee engagement survey scores are common ways of determining if progress is being made. While these are the foundation of a companys internal HR performance measures, many firms also want to see how they are doing on these measures relative to comparison firms. Typically, objective measures, such as costs of turnover, are balanced with input from employee opinion surveys to assess the success of HR initiatives.

Why make HR as Strategic Business Partner

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

To increase productivity of the labor force and thus, profitability of the organization Competency and talent management Onset of information technology and the vast amount of knowledge used in the course of the activities of organizations The changing business environment Effect of globalization on the business landscape

Why Is It Important for HR Management to Be a Strategic Business Partner?

Profitability is one of the primary reasons why human resources management should be a strategic business partner. As a strategic business partner, human resources management gains support for enhancing employee skills and training employees to meet business demands. These are two of the most effective ways to improve productivity and employee engagement, which in turn prepare the workforce for challenges associated with production and business demands.

As a strategic business partner, human resources management can justify adequate funding for human resources activities. Funding for training, employee development, and competitive salaries and benefits packages strengthens the companys position and competitiveness in attracting and retaining valuable talent and expertise. Without employees talent and expertise, the business risks losing production capabilities the inability to achieve maximum production levels directly affects revenue, profitability and company standing in relationship to its competitors.

Human resources departments have traditionally been viewed by employees and leadership as merely operational areas with limited input in employment functions beyond hiring and firing. Since the 1980s version of personnel administration, human resources management has transformed into a department with greater influence on employee satisfaction, engagement and retention. As a strategic business partner, human resources management can continue to carve out its rightful position as an integral component of the business. Inclusion of HR management in strategic business planning improves employees and leaderships perception of human resources.


Human resources management enables executive leadership to strike a balance within the organization. Developing strategy based solely on the organizations capabilities related to production and revenue fails to take into consideration the companys resources that make it possible to succeed. Human resources management, therefore, brings a broader perspective to the boardroom table. Including human resources management as a strategic business partner enables better decision making because it takes into account the actual workforce that supports organizational success.

The value HR management brings to strategic planning is paramount in attaining organization-wide goals. Implementing strategic plans is nearly impossible without the input of human resources and employee involvement. Recognizing the value of HR management is a critical step in developing business strategy, and it takes human resources managements forward-thinking principles and business acumen to put those plans into action.

Transforming HR: Becoming a Strategic Partner

It is widely agreed that people are a company's most important asset and a source of competitive advantage--everything else can be replicated. This is by no means a radically new concept. If that's the case, however, why isn't the human resources department--the traditional keeper of the people function--considered a company's most valuable strategic function? In this article, we explore how HR can transform itself into a more effective resource for the organization, enhance its credibility, evolve into a strategic partner, and potentially earn a place at the table.


Creating Excellence in Service Delivery

Hewitt partners with companies to develop ways to take advantage of the opportunities HR service delivery offers. Here are some success strategies that have emerged from these partnerships:

Design for the 80% solution

Hewitt describes the term "80% solution" to mean that a delivery process should be designed to meet the needs of the majority of customers, and that outlying situations should be handled separately.

Get out of the middle

Sometimes HR's role in an organization lacks clearly defined accountability, which may hinder efforts to provide superior service delivery. Hewitt suggests establishing expectations for HR's involvement up front. Four options that can define HR's involvement in the organization are as follows:
1. 2.

HR maintains total control of the work, from "concept to customer. HR develops the strategy and implementation plans and manages the service delivery process. HR designs and provides the tools that enable other professionals to do the work. HR ensures that service-level agreements are maintained.



Organize for effective service delivery

Many HR organizations have moved to shared services models in which there are centers of expertise to do program design and an administrative service center to handle service delivery across all areas of HR. Consolidating all the components of service delivery allows the organization to make better design and technology decisions.

Take the cost out of service delivery

Research shows that delivery of HR services is the largest cost incurred by the HR function and typically includes the use of vendors, technology expenses, and internal people costs. Hewitt recommends that companies use HR activity-based costing tools to assist HR in understanding service delivery costs. To further ensure cost efficiencies, companies should also make sure the right people are focused on the right activities and processes.

Peering Into the HR Crystal Ball

How will HR delivery look decades into the 21st century? Experts predict that the opportunities technology will provide HR professionals will dramatically improve and automate processes, while at the same time, streamline delivery services. Here are other predictions:

As the workplace embraces more aspects of technology, employees' experiences will become more enhanced as well. It's believed that an increasing number of routine HR tasks will be outsourced. The concept of "total HR outsourcing" will continue to gain traction and become a more common approach to improving efficiency and accuracy to reduce costs.



Understand your direction.

Formulate a clearly defined HR strategy and tactical plan showing how HR will add value to the business and how it will begin the transition to exceptional service delivery. This strategy should be shared with business leaders and key HR leaders to gain their support, to illustrate what various stakeholders and process owners can expect, and to clarify their role in implementing the strategy.


Understand your customers.

Strive to fully understand clients' business issues and how HR service delivery directly or indirectly - can help managers and employees better contribute to business success.

Provide HR leadership.
Urge internal HR leaders to provide direction, improve operational efficiency and effectiveness, and empower HR staff to collectively make decisions for the overall good of the enterprise.

Get the processes right.

Evaluate current administrative processes against this context: Do they add value to the business? Can they be reduced or combined? Can technology help save time and money? Can they be done better and more efficiently outside of the organization? If outsourcing is appropriate, what role does HR want to play in that process?

Recognize it's a mind-set.

HR professionals may need some time to embrace this revolutionary way of thinking about HR service delivery. Once these new strategies are in place, however, HR will be better equipped to cut costs and elevate the level of service to its internal customers.


HR expertise highly valued as strategic business partner

1. The role of the Human Resources Department is no longer limited to recruitment, incentives and people management. 2. 97.5 percent of companies in the country still dont have an HR department. Most of these companies are small and medium scale enterprises where owners assume the role of recruiting people. They will remain small if they dont leverage on their people through HR. 3. The new role of HR is that of strategic adviser, the talent architect of an organization, counselor, confidant and coach of all employees including top level managers, a leader of a companys HR functions and the liaison to the board. 4. HR having a seat in the boardroom is a must. It is the HR wing who takes care of recruitment and head hunting as well as reinforcing and cultivating the culture in a company. 5. Restriction of growth is not because of lack of capital but because of lack of the right people. HR is very important to grow in business. 6. HR is the heart and hand of the organization. To succeed in business, it is also wise to put a little more of the heart (HR) in the head (board of directors). 7. For HR to be a more respected and credible unit in the company, and earn a board seat, the HR practitioners should also think more about the business, how the company is earning and how his department can help achieve these goals. 8. HR should have broad experience, understand multiracial issues, speak like a CEO, demonstrate analytical and numerical skills and live the values of the organization. 9. organization should engage HR in all their operations because people are the real asset especially for those companies that are in the customer service business

Translating Business Strategy Into Action

You make HR as strategic partner when and if HR spend more time in the organization's planning, design and development. Your organization does this in order to achieve its mission and objectives. HR must become part of the business team, involved in planning at the highest level. Changes in HR management are inevitable. HR Managers and HR professionals are in the strategic position in providing the leadership in change management. However, HR Managers are not without challenges. Enhance the position of HR as strategic partner by ensuring that teamwork exists in your organization. The Human Resource Manager is the key person in ensuring that people play a strategic role in the organization. In activities carried out by the HR department, working in cooperation with each other and every member of the workforce is essential. This can help your organization to succeed in achieving its plans.


The business partner model relieves pressure from management to hone employee job skills for efficiency and productivity, as well as identifying, developing and grooming key employees for advancement. Human resource personnel are also responsible for analyzing employee review data. This allows HR personnel to recognize strengths, which they may then further develop to place employees more effectively, and weaknesses, which they may correct with further job skill training or disciplinary action.


If the HR department is already overworked with everyday employee relation issues, there may not be adequate time and personnel to devote to partnering with the business for additional functions. The business partner model requires HR to be involved in almost every aspect of the business, including production statistics, financial status and sales projections. Management buy-in may also be a challenge, as the traditional role of human resources is extended to that of an overseer of the entire business in the business-partner model.

In theory, the HR business partner model is designed to positively impact the business on all levels over time. By being involved in the recruiting process, HR is able to more carefully screen and choose individuals best suited for the jobs. In the training and development process, HR is able to pinpoint which employees need particular training and ensure that it is carried out. In knowing the inner workings of the business, the strategic nature of the HR partnership model is tasked with a corporate chess game of employee and manager placement to achieve the most productive outcome.

The primary reason that companies consider and implement the HR business model is change. Whether to grow the business or to make it more competitive, productive, and efficient or to solve problems, change in the business paradigm is often necessary. The HR business model handles the changes and improvements necessary by investing in what is known as "human capital." Proponents of the model recognize that the personal success and job satisfaction of the individual is one of the keys to business success, and a well-run HR partner model is ideally suited to focus on both the needs of the individual and the company.

Businesses considering the HR business partner model need to consider the specialized nature of different model aspects, and hire, train or outsource HR specialists. Expecting a one-person HR office to handle generalist duties on top of recruiting, interviewing, training, reviews and strategic planning will result in
10 | P a g e

frustration and possible program failure for all involved. The HR business partner model requires a conscious decision to change and the hiring of a sufficient force of specialized HR talent to see it through.


Using Conners and Ulrichs theoretical framework, in combination with a case study in her home country of Denmark, Lemmergaard first outlines how the HR function can begin to contribute value by redefining its position and taking more strategic roles in the development of the business. She then applies these theories to evaluate the HR role in an unnamed Danish bank.

HR going forward
Lemmergaards article is part of the ongoing examination of the need for HR to redefine, and justify, its role within a business structure. HR roles and expectations have become more varied and complex, and HR professionals are finding themselves being faced with a much wider array of work assignments and responsibilities. The thrust of the new HR philosophy is that it has much to offer an organization on a strategic and operational level, when allowed to work with counterparts in other departments. Conner and Ulrich proposed a framework in which HR could become a partner in an organization, rather than an adjunct. The engagement of HR experts in specific roles adds value to an organization by increasing its competitiveness. The authors identify four key roles for HR professionals that will not only facilitate HRs survival as a viable discipline in business, but will add value to an organization. These roles include the following: 1. Partner in strategy execution. This role involves cooperating with both senior and line managers in focusing on how to ensure the overall needs of the organization. This role emphasizes the position of an HR director as a business partner.

11 | P a g e

2. Administrative expert. This is more aligned with traditional HR functions, such as management of staff, training, and hiring. 3. Employee champion. This is an important role in emphasizing the needs of employees with the purpose of increasing commitment and capabilities. It s purpose is to increase and encourage loyalty to an organization by concentrating on employee well-being. Change agent. This role is to help employees encounter, embrace, and institute change within an organization in the appropriate spirit, thereby facilitating an organizations ability to adapt to changes in its market. Ideally, the change -agent role should look to actually initiate change in a more proactive manner, rather than merely facilitate it. Here, the sum of the four roles would equal to leadership and collaboration with other functions will result into corporate governance. In the future, there will most likely be a shift in the HR function towards the roles of strategic partner and agent of change. Complications arise when we consider the changing role of the HR manager, and potential conflicts with the responsibilities of line managers: how will the two positions work together if their responsibilities appear to overlap each other? Potential conflicts might arise over competing interests between roles within a business. Additionally, the employee-champion role might conflict with the strategic-partner role, as strategy might dictate that employee needs suffer at the expense of business development. Therefore, the article points out that only HR professional who demonstrate proficiency in all the roles defined above will add value to an organization. Lemmergaards case study was undertaken at a regional Danish full -service bank, which has a good reputation for customer care. The bank, based in the Funen district of Denmark, has a number of strategic partnerships, over 26,000 shareholders (most of whom are also customers), and roughly 600 employees. The employees are seen as valuable assets to the bank. The study was done through the use of several questionnaires sent to line managers within the Funen district, as well as in-depth interviews with the HR executive. The results of the study underlined the success of Conners and Ulrichs model. HR is a highly valued function in this particular bank, with strategic
12 | P a g e

responsibilities and tasks, administrative functions, an established role as employee champion and a change-agent. This particular HRs strongest role, according to the feedback from the study, is as employee-champion, while its weakest is as strategic partner. However, there is not much of a discrepancy between their scoring for the two roles, and therefore this case study seems to offer strong support to the model outlined by Conner and Ulrich.

It was observes that Danish business seems to be unusual in highly valuing the potential of HR to add value to an organization. Beyond Denmark, HR professionals are less likely to be included in the strategic process, reducing the role of HR to administration and implementation. In addition, it is true that HR functions do not always interact productively with line management, a problem that the discipline will have to address with clearly defined organizational roles and responsibilities. If these problems are not addressed, then HR faces the possibility of being marginalized and ultimately outsourced.

A study of strategic HR issues in an Asian context

- By Naresh Khatri Introduction
This topic is a part of the ongoing examination of the need of HR to redene and justifies its role within a business structure. It outlines how the HR functions can begin to contribute value by redening its position and taking more strategic roles in the development of the business. The thrust of the new HR philosophy is that it has much to offer an organization on a strategic and operational level, when allowed to work with counterparts in other departments. The Four key roles for HR professionals that will not only facilitate HRs survival as a viable discipline in business, but will add value to an organization are as follows: 1. Partner in strategy execution. This role involves cooperating with both senior and line managers in focusing on how to ensure the overall needs of

13 | P a g e

the organization. This role emphasizes the position of an HR director as a business partner. 2. Administrative expert. This is more aligned with traditional HR functions, such as management of staff, training, and hiring. 3. Employee champion. This is an important role in emphasizing the needs of employees with the purpose of increasing commitment and capabilities. Its purpose is to increase and encourage loyalty to an organization by concentrating on employee well-being. 4. Change agent. This role is to help employees encounter, embrace, and institute change within an organization in the appropriate spirit, thereby facilitating an organizations ability to adapt to changes in its market. Ideally, the change-agent role should look to actually initiate change in a more proactive manner, rather than merely facilitate it. Here, the sum of the four roles would equal to leadership and collaboration with other functions will result into corporate governance. In the future, there will most likely be a shift in the HR function towards the roles of strategic partner and agent of change.

HR wins a strategic role at QBE insurance

(Transformation takes place in partnership with business leaders) Human-resource management at one of the worlds top insurance companies has been transformed from an administrative, back-office function delivering valuefor-money services, to one strategically aligned to business needs. The group HR team at 13,000 employee QBE has engaged business and divisional HR teams across the firms international operation to bring about this transformation. QBE operates in 45 countries, organized into four largely autonomous divisions, each with their own divisional HR teams. A small group-HR team, led by the group general manager, HR, Jenni Smith, works with the group executive at head office.

14 | P a g e

Jenni Smith joined the company in 2003 to develop a clear vision for HR across the whole organization. She identified four core processes performance management, personal-development planning, succession planning and talent management that she wished her team to lead and control, working in partnership with the divisional HR teams. She explained to the divisional HR heads that a One HR approach would not only help HR to become more strategic, but also help the divisional HR directors to be more successful in their own divisions since they would no longer have to fight their own local battles with their own chief executives. Jenni Smith also explained to members of the group executive team who include the divisional chief executives how they could help to implement the One HR approach successfully, to benefit their own businesses as well as the company as a whole.

Performance management
QBE used to operate a number of performance-management processes, which were neither consistent with each other nor integrated with other HR processes. In 2005, group HR introduced a single performance-management process that uses a single form with a common rating scale and descriptors to provide a consistent language for measuring and maximizing performance against business objectives. The process also incorporates essential behaviors as part of determining how objectives should be achieved, and a personal-development plan to document personal and professional development to support the achievement of business objectives. The new performance-management process was designed to be simple, time efficient and aligned with divisional planning schedules. Its introduction was supported with training in how to give and receive feedback, manage poor performance and raise the standards of achievement. New guidelines and reference materials were also produced. The performance-management process continues to be refined and improved.

15 | P a g e

Personal-development planning
Group HR recognized that the organization had no clear overall view of the talent it had, and that there was duplication of names for a number of key roles. It therefore needed to find a way of gathering information on potential successors in conjunction with a succession-planning process that would also position the group HR team as a facilitator to support better decision making at the group executive level. An obvious vehicle was the series of personal-development planning days that the group chief executive held with his direct reports. This process resulted in a personal-development plan with key objectives for each of these executives, but group HR felt they were fairly informal, with progress against plans not always monitored. In 2005, group HR introduced a more detailed, facilitated program to address succession planning, which incorporated performance management for QBEs most senior managers. Group HR presented this new approach to the group executive as a more structured version of the same process, building on its success but helping to involve more people. The team felt that, given the companys growth, the group chief executive would not be able to spend time one-to-one with all of the key people in the business or those who might be identified as successors for group-executive positions. This process therefore offered him, the group executive and group HR an opportunity to gain more information on people and provide the business with options for succession decisions in the future. Succession planning Alongside personal-development planning, work continued on developing a robust succession-planning process across the group, which now allows regular reporting to both the group board and external regulators on succession plans for all groupexecutive roles. This succession-planning process is slowly being cascaded down the organization to incorporate the top 100 roles, using personal-development planning as the communication tool. Personal-development planning enables QBE to consider the risks associated with each key position and current incumbent, along with development planning for identified successors. Further improvements have been made to the succession-planning process, particularly to ensure regular monitoring of progress against agreed development
16 | P a g e

plans. The goal is not simply to develop replacements for key roles, but people with the potential to develop the roles in future.

Talent management
Group HR has been working to introduce a single talent-management approach that can be implemented consistently. The team has engaged the divisions in developing a new framework and has also begun piloting its approach through several group-led talent initiatives. The success of these pilots is starting to bring the business and divisional HR teams together around group HRs approach. However, QBE still has a long way to go to develop an effective approach to talent management. HR established as a business partner HR has been able to support major restructuring at QBE that it would not have been in a position to help with previously. Divisional HR directors, in consultation with Jenni Smith, now work well together to achieve common objectives. Employee turnover in the group has fallen significantly. Group HRs focus has become more strategic, while divisional HR teams deliver most of the day-to-day, operational services. The group HR team spends considerable time with business leaders individually; talking about what it is advocating and explaining the benefits for the business. It considers this lobbying vital to team sponsorship at the group executive level. The most critical factors underpinning this success include: 1. Having a group chief executive who fully supports the HR vision; 2. Developing a clear One HR approach, aligned to the needs of the business; 3. Building on existing developments, attempting to deliver only what the business is ready a. for and prioritizing the group HR teams time to ensure that it is able to do a relatively small 4. Number of things really well;
17 | P a g e

5. Resisting the temptation to change things unnecessarily; and 6. Focusing strongly on engaging the business.

This review is based on Transforming HR in partnership with the business at QBE Insurance, by Jenni Smith, group general manager, HR, at QBE Insurance Group, and Claire Davies, the groups HR manager, executive talent. The article describes transformation of HR at QBE Insurance, focusing on how the group HR team has engaged both the business and divisional HR teams across an international operation to enable this transformation. The authors explain how changes in culture, executive development, performance management, personaldevelopment planning, succession planning and talent management have been introduced by influencing business leaders and divisional HR teams, underpinned by a clear and consistent HR vision that is aligned to business needs. According to the authors, the group general manager, HRs approach to implementing QBEs One HR plan has transformed group HRs relationship with the companys business leaders, supported the transformation of the HR operating models in each of the divisions and helped to improve QBEs overall business results. The experiences, presented in a straightforward and accessible way, may be useful to other HR teams developing their role in an international business, wanting to become more strategic or setting out to increase their credibility and influence with business leaders.


HR function is an important function contributing to the well-being of the organization. Over the past two decades, changes in the nature of managerial work have had a profound impact on the personnel managers role and other functional specialists (Caldwell, 2003). The evolution of the HR function from an
18 | P a g e

administrative guru to a strategically focused ally to the business is well documented. Ulrich (1997) proposed a conceptual model about HR roles that add value in an increasingly complex environment. The focus is on how the human resources role should move from operational to strategic, and on how HR professionals need to perform increasingly complex and at times paradoxical roles (Conner & Ulrich, 1996). Conner and Ulrich (1996) made one of the first major attempts to test the extent to which HR roles could be defined and measured that out lined by Ulrich (1993) (in Conner and Ulrich, 1996)that is strategic partner, change agent, employee champion, and administrative expert. In their study of 256 mid-to-upper level executives from mid- to large-size companies, they factor analysed the 40 items that reflect the four roles hypothesized by Ulrich (1993) (in Conner and Ulrich, 1996). They confirmed the existence of three of the four roles outlined by Ulrich in his HR role framework. The data did not discriminate between the strategic partner and change agent role, and they renamed it as strategic partner/change agent role.

Ulrichs HR Role
The most widely accepted framework of HR roles (Raub et al., 2006) and perhaps the best known has been proposed by Ulrich (1997). In addition, since this Ulrichs HR roles is so far the most comprehensive within the literature, this study chose to adapt it in the future theoretical framework to assess the role of HR in the study to be conducted in Malaysia. Ulrich (1997) developed four main roles of HR professionals: employee champion, administrative expert, change agent, and strategic partner. The roles are based on the dimensions strategic versus operational focus, and processes versus people. The roles of change agent and strategic partner are more strategically orientated while administrative expert and employee champion are more operationally focused. These roles include the following:

Administrative expert concerns more with process efficiency that involve people and most of the HR functions time is spent on this role. This role requires that HR professionals design and deliver efficient HR processes for staffing, training, appraising, rewarding, promoting, and otherwise managing the flow of employees through the organization. HR professionals ensure that these processes are both efficient and optimized as well as continuously track, monitor and improve on these basic processes to give credibility to its own existence.
19 | P a g e




As employee champion, requires the HR function to know the concerns of employees and spend time talking to them and listening to their concerns rather than processes. The HR function should promote all possible methods of communication, including employee surveys, suggestion programmes, team meetings and any other means of sharing information and views. A key element of this role is to ensure that employees receive a fair hearing. Ulrich also noted that, The [employee champion] role for HR professionals encompasses their involvement in the day-to-day problems, concerns, and needs of employees. The HR role as change agent is that of a facilitator, involving modelling change to other departments, being a positive advocate of change across the entire organization, resolving employee issues arising from change, and embedding change by implementing efficient and flexible processes. HR staff can act as change agent when they help make change happen: they understand critical processes for change build commitment to those processes and ensure that change occurs as intended The final role, strategic partner, HR must make sure that its practices, processes, and policies complement the overall organizational strategy. It must also develop the capacity to execute that strategy in the minimum amount of time. In playing this role, the HR professional works to be a strategic partner, helping to ensure the success of business strategies. By fulfilling this role, HR professionals increase the capacity of a business to execute its strategies.

Problems with the model

1. They argue that only the HR players who master these roles simultaneously truly add value and contribute to an organizations ability to compete in a significantly expanded playing field. It is unclear from the article by Ulrich and Beatty (2001) how this framework is different from Ulrichs first model. 2. The premise of the HR role framework is that the HR function must perform all four (or six) roles in order to create an HR function that is a value -adding business partner for the organization (Ulrich, 1997). While the rhetoric behind the framework emphasizes the interplay between the roles, the tasks assigned to the different roles result in a ranking of influence.
20 | P a g e

3. Ulrich and Brockbank (2005b) do not explicitly place the role as strategic partner at the strategic level in the organizational hierarchy, but only mention the operative strategic level. Ulrich and Brockbank (2005b) take a too simplistic view upon determining what defines HR strategy.

Implications for practice

The HR function must be both strategic and operational, and it must also be both process- and people-oriented. Hereby, the function must be able simultaneously to plan ahead and to implement. Being both a strategic partner and an employee champion is a fine balance. The role as strategic partner involves being part of the top management team, whereas the fundamental basis of the role as employee champion is confidentiality with line managers and employees. Having to fulfill multiple roles, as suggested by Ulrich and Brokeback (2005a, b), means that changes in HR careers are likely to happen (Tamkinet al., 2006). The requirement for HR generalists is most likely to decrease, whereas HR professionals specialized in business strategy who can demonstrate their ability to add value will increase.HR professionals are struggling to make top executives and colleagues recognize the value of their operations and initiatives, although HR functions are gaining increasingly more influence in the business operations.

Implications for research

The findings of this exploratory study are revealing, though simply indicative as they arise from a small convenience sample of one HR executive and 26 line managers employed in a Danish bank. As such, they reflect their own observations rather than empirically established facts. Further exploration is certainly needed to determine the extent to which these outcomes might reflect the respective job roles of HR managers indifferent countries and different segments of the industry. A second step would be to investigate the percentage of work time spent in the various HR roles as defined in the Ulrich model. Comparisons between time spent in the various roles by the HR executive and the line managers respectively would give a much clearer picture of the effectiveness of the roles performed. Other
21 | P a g e

studies show that particularly line managers are adamant about the need to reduce the administrative workload (Raub et al., 2006). By combining Ulrichs measurement with time spent on the various HR roles, a more nuanced picture will appear.

Replicating Ulrichs model, Lemmergaards (2009) study aims to investigate empirically the HR role performance of a case organization. Lemmergaard investigated HR professionals and line managers perceptions of HR roles in a regional full-service bank based on a combination of interviews and a questionnaire survey distributed to the HR executive and line managers. The case study evidence reported suggests that not only are all four roles strongly represented, they are also equally shared between the HR executive and line managers. The study showed that the HR executive can operate as administrative expert and change agent simultaneously. In addition, in the sampled organization, the study discovered that the HR executives perceived he to be acting as an employee champion. In such a situation, the HR executive may well find himself at odds with the line manager in a kind of "loyal opposition role between being a strategic partner and an employee champion. In the same way, where the HR function acts mainly as a strategic partner it may well be that the line managers take on an employee champion role.

Organisational learning: developing leaders to deal with continuous change a strategic human resource perspective
-By Pam Swain Paradox, Chaos, Complexity, are descriptors of the 1990s business environment found in current literature. The market-driven strategies of the 1980s focused on external environment analysis and encouraged measures such as cost-cutting, downsizing and short-term budgetary frameworks. These strategies have recently been subjected to severe and critical scrutiny. New strategic approaches are favored which focus on the internal environment of organizations; for example an emphasis on growth rather than costs, intellectual capital rather than market position, and a long term perspective with analogies to bio-systems rather than attempts to copy the perceived Best practice of competitors. Intellectual capital
22 | P a g e

theories discussing intangibles such as knowledge and creativity in terms of competitive advantage have provided an important strategic and philosophical support for learning organization theories such as those of Senge (1990). In the late 1990s, business strategy theorists and management consultants are describing an organizations human resources as critical to the success of strategies aimed at sustained competitive advantage. This finding has implications for the required competencies of executives, and therefore management development and education, and for human resource practices within organizations.

Theoretical frameworks
Sources of competitive advantage are a major area of research in the field of strategic management. The SWOT type of analysis has been an overwhelming favorite in business schools for case study analysis and research studies. This approach postulates that the firm has an internal environment characterized by strengths and weaknesses and an external environment presenting opportunities and threats. In the research on competitive advantage it has been the opportunities and threats which attracted the major attention until the mid-1990s. Michael Porters (1980) Five forces model has been, for example, very persuasive in focusing managers on their external competitive environment. In so doing, attention has been diverted from the impact of factors within the internal environment of the organization as a source of competitive advantage.

Implications for managers

Managers operating in an environment dominated by uncertainty can find no comfort in strategic approaches based on historical data. The past cannot be regarded as a guide to the future. Indeed as Whittington (1993) has pointed out, the problem for top managers becomes one of unlearning. It is also apparent that relying upon the traditional financial tools to give a comprehensive picture of the state of the organization, which can be used as the information base for corporate strategy, is no longer adequate. The enthusiasm which has greeted new organization measurement approaches such as the Balanced Scorecard of Kaplan and Norton (1996), is evidence of a widespread concern among managers that they need new ways of analyzing their internal environments. There is a growing interest in intellectual capital in international business which is now being demonstrated in business behaviors. In the search for strategic alliances, for
23 | P a g e

example, there is a wealth of anecdotal evidence that a partners decision is swayed more by knowledge resources than financial resources. It is capabilities, not finance, which are becoming the scarce resource. The damage caused to organizations when knowledge/expertise is lost, has been illustrated by dramatic falls in stock market evaluation of the worth of a company. For example, investor reaction to leading software manufacturers losing key program designers/analysts or advertising agencies losing creative executives.

The role of HR
Personnel/human resources has been widely viewed as a support department concerned with administration and processes, staffed by clerical staff and specialists in such functions as training, recruitment, remuneration, employee relations. In a recent international study, Flannery et al. (1996) report that non-HR managers saw HR not only as a not a player in the change process, but frequently as an impediment to effective organizational change, as they had no understanding of the strategic management issues. This finding was validated by a separate study by Hay McBer in which a survey of 1,500 HR professionals found few who took a strategic perspective or even understood basic strategic change strategies such as re-engineering. If an organization was really serious about creating a more dynamic culture and, for example, changes in approaches to compensation were decided upon, then an initial step was to remove the focus of any changes in people management away from the HR department (Flannery et al., 1996). If HR specialists are to be seen as relevant and useful when the responsibility for many functional tasks such as compensation, training, performance evaluation has been devolved to line management, then they must either be seen to add value at the strategic level where employees are now regarded as the key resource, or cease to have an important role. How can this be achieved? Perhaps the first requirement for HR specialists in the new organization is the need to understand not only business strategy and be able to action strategic change programs, but to see themselves as strategists and be perceived as such by others in the organization. This will require a different mind-set for many. Pfeffer (1997) suggests that HR departments must change their focus from activities to organizational outcomes. Given the low esteem in which they have been held in many organizations, the prevalent mind-set of HR staff has been a defensive one which has made them peculiarly vulnerable to measurement programs constantly justifying their usefulness. The trend towards benchmarking intensified this in the past decade. Typical measures to reflect the value of HR were taken to be, How many trained?, How many recruited? In a learning organization, more relevant
24 | P a g e

measures would ask how the effects of training were reflected in enhanced performance and organizational outcomes and if the type of people hired were capable of enriching the store of intellectual capital and promoting organizational growth and learning. These questions are qualitative not numerical in nature and illustrate the requirements for processes continually feeding back and updating information on client and employee requirements, new ideas and processes and continual analysis and change. The consensus emerging from recent studies, for example De Geus (1997), Fitz- Enz (1997), Ulrich (1997), is that the successful organization for the new millennium needs organization leaders with excellent capabilities in people management skills and understanding of behavioral issues; and HR strategic specialists with capabilities of designing and promoting organization programs to create and maintain effective work practices and an environment of continuous learning. Ulrich (1997) states that the new organizations will see the strategic role of HR as focused on delivering four generic outcomes: strategic execution, administrative efficiency, employee contribution and capacity for change. In addition, the centrality of people to sustained competitive advantage will require the input of strategic HR factors into business strategy formulation.

Implications for management education

How should business schools respond to the current paradigms? Organizations are seeking to transform themselves into learning environments, intellectual capital is regarded as a core asset and business leaders require continuous strategic analysis of their internal as well as their external environments. Can universities become not only useful tools but stakeholders in a work environment now prizing intellectual capabilities? A brief look at opinions expressed on the relationship between universities and the business world in the USA shows some cause for concern: What is the impact of business school research on the practice of business and management? The apparent answer is...Not much. If impact is measured in terms of whether managers are directly influenced in their day-to-day actions by the latest research articles and scholarly books, then one would have to conclude that such effects are virtually nil.

25 | P a g e

Change Management: The HR Strategic Imperative as a Business Partner

To maintain a competitive advantage, organizations must be able to quickly change. Change is driven by economic, social and environmental factors as well as business trends (see Figure 1). Many organizations strategically use change to improve organizational effectiveness. In fact, according to the SHRM 2007 Change Management Survey Report, 82% of HR professionals reported that their company had planned or implemented major organization change in the 24 months prior to the survey.

HR's Role in Change Management

Through change management, HR has an opportunity to make a significant impact onand contribution tothe organization. HR is best suited to identify and coach individuals in the company to lead change efforts. Also, by identifying and recommending change tools and techniques, as well as addressing barriers, HR's overall role is that of 'change architect.' As change agent, HR fills four primary roles: 1. Change champion: HR publicly supports the change defined by the organization's top executives. 2. Change facilitator: HR enables change, such as providing insights regarding the company culture, history and political dynamics to external facilitators or developing programs for internal consultants. 3. Change designer: To help managers and employees better understand a change initiative and have a sense of ownership, HR redesigns the corresponding HR systems (e.g., total rewards, staff development, and communication practices). 4. Change demonstrator: Within HR itself, HR manifests change and serves as an example of effective transformation.

Readiness for Change

26 | P a g e

Prior to considering a change initiative, it is imperative that an organization first determine its readiness and capacity for change. In reality, change is ongoing. Usually, small changes (e.g., reorganization of a department) are easier to manage and tend to have a better likelihood of success than broad changes (e.g., institutionalizing organizational values throughout the workforce). The possibility of successful change can also be hampered when change initiatives occur at the same time or when one initiative is implemented before others are completed. Further, multiple change processes can lead to change fatigue. A 2005 study by The Conference Board explored factors of large-scale organizational change. The results showed that the degree of success depends in great part on how an organization develops its capacity to achieve change. Key success factors identified were balancing the need to implement change, maintaining daily operations and implementing short- and long-term change for the future. The top three challenges were people issues (e.g., employee engagement, staffing/talent problems and turnover), organizational resistance and communication weaknesses." Yet, when organizations expect change on a regular basis, research suggests that change initiatives may be more likely to succeed. In their book. Built to Change, researchers Edward E. Lawler ' III and Christopher G. Worley point out that by coming from the perspective that change is normal, organizations are better placed to drive change by building practices that encourage change rather than hinder it. Intel, GE, Microsoft and PepsiCo are examples of organizations that have fostered the capability to manage change.

Change Management Tools and Techniques

Within the literature on change management, there is no standard definition for change management models, tools or techniques. Often, these terms are used interchangeably, with much ambiguity. However, as one study points out, the most relevant issue is not what the tool is called but the importance of knowing its strengths and weaknesses, if it can be strategically useful over time (not a fad), if it is the best tool for the joband the importance of adapting tools to fit the business system, not the other way around, SWOT, an analysis tool to evaluate weaknesses, strengths, opportunities and threats, is often used in change management, A graphical representation, such as a flowchart, shows the specific steps of the change initiative and is an example of a tool that helps employees envision and understand the implementation of an upcoming change,
27 | P a g e

1, Shock: People may feel threatened by an upcoming change, unsafe, unable to take risks and/or deny its existence. Generally, workplace production drops, 2, Defensive retreat: People often react to change and/or loss with anger and may try to hold onto the way life used to be. They may attempt to understand, yet feel conflicted. At this point, people do not feel safe to take risks. 3, Acknowledgement: Eventually, people don't deny the change. Psychologically, this stage includes both grief and a sense of liberation. People begin to consider the pros and cons of the new situation and are more willing to take risks. 4, Acceptance and adaptation: Most people will eventually internalize the change, do what is necessary to adapt and move on. People will have left: behind the old situation, including confusion, pain or fear experienced earlier.

In today's fast-paced, hyper-competitive global environment, change is constant. Rooted in culture, communication and leadership, successful change is essential, yet amazingly elusive. HR's role as a strategic business partner-grounded in vision and ongoing communication-is pivotal for organizational change. HR professionals for whom change management is relatively nev^ will want to learn change competencies to expand their leadership skills.

28 | P a g e