Why should HR Own Organizational Effectiveness?


What role should HR play in its organization’s success?

In many respects, the answer is obvious. Human Resources oversees the most important component of a successful business — a productive, engaged and thriving workforce. The role of human resource management is to strategically manage people as business resources.

Unfortunately, in most organizations, HR is seen as an administrative unit rather than a strategic player. It manages recruiting and hiring employees, coordinating employee benefits and identifying employee training and development strategies. It can get pretty tactical just due to the demands of the day-to-day.

But in today’s businesses environment, shouldn’t HR align with the business to understand the growth plans for the organization, forecasting what the business will need for tomorrow and beyond?


HR and Organizational Effectiveness

HR becomes a more strategic business partner—and brings real value—when it becomes the champion of high performance through organizational effectiveness. According to Judy Johnson, Ph.D., head of the Organizational Effectiveness practice at Newton Talent’s sister company, Aspirant, HR is in a position that naturally leads to discussions about organizational design, people strategy, rewards systems, culture and change management.

HR-driven organizational effectiveness initiatives help companies improve their environment, making work more enjoyable and productive while providing faster, more sustainable results, says Johnson. “It manifests itself in everything from culture to decision-making structure, leadership development and alignment to change management, and especially in the HR and management systems that support people in their day to day jobs so they can be at their best.”

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While most organizations are already looking to include HR to lead their segment in organizational effectiveness, it isn’t always easy for HR to be recognized as a strategic partner rather than a tactical one. Traditionally, the role of the Human Resource professional in many organizations has been to serve as the systematizing, policing arm of executive management. Often short of resources, shackled by legacy policies and ineffective procedures, or bogged down in the daily administrative tasks that keep the company moving, HR’s failure to be able to “be the player it should be,” with respect to business strategy, often makes it hard for leadership to recognize how it can become more of a player in corporate strategy design, implementation, and change.


What is Organizational Effectiveness to HR?

Organizational effectiveness is not just about the performance of the organization, although that certainly is part of it. Increasing volumes, sales numbers or even market share does not mean you are more effective, although it certainly may be the desired outcome. An efficient organization is one that usually spends fewer resources to produce the desired profit or outcome they seek.

Organizational effectiveness has a LOT to do with people management in the organization. Pushing responsibility to lower levels of the organization, making processes smoother and more efficient, and teaching managers to empowering employees to take risks and find new solutions–all have an immense impact on the speed and efficiency of the organization. These are the primary focus of Human Resources.

HR can have a significant impact on the overall company results when it focuses on identifying and addressing gaps in these processes that cause ineffectiveness, such as the need for manager training or better cultural alignment. HR truly becomes the company’s productivity experts, looking at how work is getting done with an open mind, and helping others in the organization to rethink processes or reorganize teams to empower them and make them more efficient. In fact, HR is ideally positioned to manage the necessary:

  • Assessment: Understanding organizational and employee readiness for change
  • Preparation: Setting the groundwork for the change process
  • Execution: Implementing and monitoring change and organizational development
  • Follow-through: Is sustaining and institutionalizing change the right answer?


Want to learn more? Read "5 ways HR Can Foster Workplace Learning Culture."


Taking ownership

So, what can HR leaders do to overcome the barriers that are keeping them from taking the lead to drive sustainable organizational change?  It starts with asserting your value as a true partner to business leaders, says Johnson. Three components the conversation should include:

“We haven’t always delivered. We’re working to change that.” 
Acknowledge your historical tactical role.  Business leaders often have a history with HR that limits their expectations of the role to “people-issue fixer” rather than “strategic partner.” They are often reluctant to allow HR to have a seat at the table because its tactical nature adds so little value strategically. Acknowledging this history with business leaders opens a discussion and goes a long way to position HR in a more strategic light.

“These are the trends that are impacting our industry and business.”
HR’s understanding of the business doesn’t always come out in discussion, and leadership’s perception of the HR organization as a strategic partner (rather than a tactical unit) suffers because of it. Being strategic means focusing on business problems that occur outside of HR. Dig into business and industry issues that your business leaders are dealing with and understand what your role is in helping the business proactively address those issues.  

“Where do you want to be 3 years from now?”
No other question speaks to the need for HR to drive organizational effectiveness through its organization like this one. It is key to the transformation of HR from a tactical to strategic partner, moving it from a reactive to proactive function. Just be prepared to share how you can help with the answer.

Everything from recruitment to training is designed not just to fill a need, but to meet the businesses goals: How many people will be needed, and where? With what skills and abilities? Once those needs have been determined, then all of the other activities around this kick into action, like performance management, career planning and employee development. Separate HR functions no longer work in isolation but rather as an integrated web that works together to support and enhance the organization’s performance.


Identifying key talent areas and providing coherent, well-developed plans for obtaining, developing, and managing critical talent can help HR open the door to being a major strategic player with respect to organizational effectiveness. Learn how Newton Talent can help. Connect with us.


Written by Patty Silbert

President of Newton Talent since 2018, Patty Silbert has over 30 years of experience developing the innovative solutions that help HR professionals just like you meet their most pressing recruitment challenges and their companies achieve their talent acquisition goals. She is a regular writer and speaker on the subjects of recruitment strategy, employment branding, HR technology, and leadership.