Business In Competitive Environment – Can Hr Make A Difference?

Business In Competitive Environment – Can Hr Make A Difference?

An oft-repeated, powerful statement by Henry Ford reads, “You can take my factories and burn up my buildings, but give me my people and I’ll build the business right back again.” Its relevance and realization has only increased over a period of time. Extending this logic further, the people with the responsibility of ‘talent management’ should be even more valuable because they take care of this most important asset of the organization. But, is it really so? And if not, why not?

First of all, we need to recognize the fact that with time, the paradigm of business has changed. While capital and cash flows remain important; brand, technology and intellectual capital have become the new measures of success. The role of HR has also changed accordingly. It is becoming increasingly important for an HR manager to understand business & what drives it. The HR has to move up from day-to-day operational level to the role of change agent and strategic partner. It may be perfectly alright for HR to focus on aligning employee-oriented processes; but what they need to ask themselves is the very purpose of this exercise… and the answer is very clear – Whatever does not make business sense, can not make HR sense!

The challenges before HR can not be seen in isolation. HR professionals need to understand the challenges before their organizations. They must respond to the requirements of today and prepare for tomorrow as well. With ever increasing use of technology, transactional functions are now much better performed by automated systems. Computerized processes can add a lot of speed and accuracy to data capturing and analysis, and facilitate decision making in much improved manner. As such, real value addition from HR will come from rising above the transactional level and operating at the strategic and transformational level.

HR is responsible to ensure that good people are adequately rewarded; but more important than that is realization that the rewards must come out of earnings. Performance Management System must be able to measure human capital’s contribution to business performance. HR role has to be as a consultative business partner rather than an employee advocate or people police. To repeat, whatever does not make business sense, can not make HR sense. HR needs to command respect, which is not available ‘on demand’. And to command respect, HR has to be an influencer, which is possible only by adding value and thus increasing its credibility.

The bottom line is that it is impact and not intention that matters. It is not how good your intentions are or how much you want things to improve; it is how measurable a difference you are making for the organization to achieve its business goals. HR people need to come out of their dream world of self admiration and reorient themselves for acquiring business acumen to understand operational systems and how to support and leverage these systems through their proactive approach, so as to achieve organization’s business objectives.

Ashok Grover is Director at Skillscape – a company with a vision of Value Creation by enhancing people and organizational competencies. Visit for select HR articles, downloadable presentations and understand how Skillscape can help you and your organization in the areas of executive assessment, development and employee feedback management.

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From the PBS series Great Cars. In the summer of 2003, thousands of people made a pilgrimage to Dearborn, Michigan to celebrate the 100th birthday of the Ford Motor Company. It was a remarkable five-day event that demonstrated the impact this company has had on the world. The Ford fans had a chance to see the world’s largest display of current and historic cars that made it famous around the world. Cars like Mustangs, Lincolns and Thunderbirds delighted the attendees but one car stood out above the rest — The Model T. Launched in 1908, she was quite a gal. Her name was “Lizzie” and she helped unite people from near and far. The “Tin Lizzie,” or Model T, made her family famous– the Fords. “Lizzie” only went 40 miles per hour. While she wasn’t quick or even very pretty, she was inexpensive. For the first time, the working-man could afford a car and The Model T put the world on wheels. It’s a remarkable story of luck, pluck and desire. More at
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