MANAGEMENT: Course To Prime HR Managers
Recent Western Cape Business News
HR managers need to up their strategic thinking and aspire towards a seat at the boardroom table to shed HR’s image as a simple administrative function, says Erna Oldenboom, convener of a new short course called ‘HR as a Strategic Business Partner’ launching at the UCT Graduate School of Business (UCT GSB) this year.
The course comes in response to growing calls for HR departments to operate at a more strategic level and look for ways to add value beyond just performing service-related tasks like payroll duties.
“HR managers are increasingly being expected to become value-adding strategic business partners as companies seek to extract maximum value from organisational functions during these tighter economic times,” said Oldenboom.
‘HR as a Strategic Business Partner’ will run for the first time in September and October and Oldenboom – who is a Dutch national – has brought in experts from the US and South Africa to give the programme a unique blend of local and international perspectives. These include Kalpana Mistry, Chief Administrative Officer and Senior Vice President of Human Resources at VITAS Innovative Hospice Care in the US, and Ezanne Swanepoel of local people and leadership development organisation Connemara.
Mistry, who was honoured by the Society of Human Resource Management with a National Human Capital Business Leader of the year Award in 2007, is credited with lifting HR to strategic partner status at her organisation and will share these first-hand experiences with delegates on the programme.
“At VITAS, HR has become a strategic business partner because we approach it from the outside in, which means having a clear understanding of the business context first and foremost,” explained Mistry.
“HR managers need to ask the question, ‘what are the top five areas of concern for the CEO and how can HR contribute to providing solutions?’ If what HR does on the inside does not create value on the outside – such as the ability of the company to attract, serve and retain customers and investors – its value is zero,” she advised.
Oldenboom explained that the shift in thinking that is required essentially means taking a more business-minded approach to HR.
“HR managers need to consider what their business does in the market, who its clients are, and how HR can feed in to these strategic aims,” she said.
Swanepoel warned that whether or not HR managers want to shift up to a higher strategic gear, the HR space is changing along with the business world around it and the manner in which HR managers fulfil their traditional functions will soon impact on company performance anyway.
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