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owning organisational effectiveness What should the role of HR be in a corporation? The answer is obvious. It should take responsibility for providing input, advice, direction, and execution with respect to organisation effectiveness. Increasingly, what makes organisations effective is how they organise and manage their talent. Modern organisations are dependent on complex systems and the knowledge of their employees. Yes, it is important for organisations to have the right financial capital and hard assets, but it is the soft assets that are increasingly the difference makers. Critics of the HR function have pointed out that HR is more of an administrative unit than a strategic player. Recent articles and books have claimed that HR has changed and has become a player when it comes to organisational effectiveness and business strategy. In our book, Effective Human Resource Management: A Global Analysis, John Boudreau and I present data from 1995 to 2010, which shows little to no change in how HR spends its time. It also shows that HR spends less than 15% of its

time on strategy. My research also shows that spending more time on strategy leads to better company performance, so it is the right place for HR functions to operate. Unfortunately, my research suggests that HR rarely plays a major role in the development and implementation of business strategies. When I look at whether HR’s role in strategy has changed in the recent years, the answer is, “No.” HR seems to be about as involved in business strategy today as it was a decade ago. The failure of HR to be the player it should be with respect to business strategy, raises the question of how it can become more of a player in corporate strategy development, implementation, and organisational change?

HR seems to be about as involved in business strategy today as it was a decade ago. Clearly, HR should be eager and ready to take on assignments having to do with HR practices and policies, but that may not be the best route to being a major player in business strategy. The best route may be through a focus on talent and its procurement, development, retention, and motivation. Talent is clearly an area where CEOs and senior executives need help, recognise they need help, and often look to HR for advice and counsel.

Spending more time on strategy leads to better company performance, so it is the right place for HR functions to operate.

It is not a matter of just being a provider of good talent; it is a matter of identifying the critical talent that makes a difference in organisational effectiveness. If HR can identify key talent areas and provide coherent, well-developed plans for obtaining, developing, and managing critical talent, it can open the door to being a major strategic player.

Focusing on strategy may be the key to changing the HR function to the organisational effectiveness function. A major advantage of establishing credibility in the talent area is that it naturally leads to discussions about organisational design, rewards systems, strategy and change management. All of these areas need to be dealt with in order to create an effective organisation, and should be part of any discussion about talent development, procurement and what the critical positions in an organisation are. Focusing on strategy may be the key to changing the HR function to the organisational effectiveness function. Today most organisations are not prepared to create an organisational effectiveness function that includes talent, organisation design, change management, and information technology, but they ought to be. Edward E. Lawler III, University of Southern California

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Progress - Owning Organisational Effectiveness: Edward E. Lawler, University of Southern California  

Edward Lawler from the University of Southern California asks ‘what should the role of HR be in a corporation?’

Progress - Owning Organisational Effectiveness: Edward E. Lawler, University of Southern California  

Edward Lawler from the University of Southern California asks ‘what should the role of HR be in a corporation?’

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