Friday, November 21, 2008

HR Leaders

HR Leaders Must Capitalize On Their First 100 Days On
The following is an excerpt from Mercer's new Point of View paper, "Your first 100 days as chief human resource officer: Make a good first impression for lasting success."

Your first 100 days as the new Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO) provides a window of opportunity to build a solid foundation for long-term success. It's a time to gain the confidence of the CEO, the executive team and those in the HR function, and to secure an in-depth understanding of your new environment.

This is a unique opportunity. you will never have the chance to do over. How can you make the most of it? We suggest you spend these critical first 100 days at the strategic level, focused on the development of connected strategies for both the organization' s workforce and the HR function itself.

You should strive to:

1. Connect the goals of the HR function to the goals of the business.By starting with the broad business challenges and strategy, you'll convey to senior executives that you understand the need to link workforce investments to business results. It will take some time before you can measure the impact of your HR leadership, but you can set the standard in the first 100 days as you identify new goals and measures for HR.

2. Identify the greatest sources of pain for immediate attention and prioritize longer-term issues.While you won't be able to address all of the organization' s workforce or HR issues in the first 100 days, you can identify the most critical ones, assess the available resources and develop a plan of action. You can also take advantage of smaller issues where quick action will result in immediate benefits.

3. Create a plan that will guide your function and your business partners.After you identify your goals, you can create a vision of success and a road map to get there. Your action plan will clearly articulate the activities, timing and required resources. Your plan should engage stakeholders throughout the organization to ensure a solid connection between business and workforce strategies.

4. Build the case for change within the function and throughout the organization.The scope and magnitude of change will be different in each organization, but there's no question that people will expect action - and business challenges will demand it. Your new role will provide momentum for change, and the CEO's agenda may add additional urgency. Your demonstrated ability to make a persuasive case for change in the first 100 days will highlight your value to the executive team.

5. Create a powerful personal brand as a business leader and change agent.What you do - and what you choose not to do - will communicate the value and character of your personal brand. Partly it's a matter of substance: what you have to say. But it's also a matter of style: how well you say it. While you will undoubtedly be influenced by aspects of your new organization and its culture, it's important to express your personal views on what HR must do - and how it must be done - to help the organization succeed. Expect some healthy debate as you posit views that others in your organization may not immediately agree with - including other business leaders and even your own HR team. This can be very constructive as you discuss the business, its future course and the implications for the workforce and the HR function.

Admittedly, each HR leadership job is different - greatly affected by market conditions, business strategies and the current state of the function. But regardless of the specific job situation, you will need to gather and synthesize facts and opinions about the organization' s unique business and workforce challenges, and then translate this information into a comprehensive set of actions.

The following three-step process can help you make a strong start and exceed the expectations of those around you:

Step 1: Understand the business and workforce issues.Identify the current and changing dynamics of key markets and customers... and their impact on the organization' s business strategy, brand and workforce priorities.

Step 2: Develop workforce and HR function strategies.Identify the important segments and characteristics of the organization' s workforce that will drive strategic competitive advantage. Determine the operational consequences of both the business and workforce requirements on the design of the HR function. Then spend some time developing a concrete plan - including priorities, important decision points and milestones, accountability and critical resources.

Step 3: Promote and lead change.Identify what needs to change, potential barriers and the activities required to support and sustain effective implementation - including productive new workforce behaviors supported by world-class HR.

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