A few weeks ago, we discussed the three ingredients that blend together to make up modern HR strategy: engagement, learning and performance. These concepts are distinct but interrelated. And they need to be in balance to create the right culture and employee experience. Check out this short video that illustrates this important mix.
But once an HR strategy is created, the work isn't over. In fact, it's only just begun. All strategies need a maintenance plan. But let's come back to that in a moment. First, we'll discuss measurement and evaluation.
Two ways to measure HR strategy
There are many metrics and measurement measures that organizations can use to evaluate their strategies. One that probably comes to mind is measuring employee engagement through the use of annual surveys (or, even better, pulse surveys). Training programs are often measured using Kirkpatrick's Levels of Evaluation. Performance can be measured . And, there are qualitative methods such as focus groups, stay interviews and anecdotal stories. Here are a couple of additional ways to think about measuring HR strategy: people and process.
Any time a strategy is created, it's important to have all of the right stakeholders in the room. That includes the company's most vocal naysayers. It can be tempting to exclude them, because...well, the meeting often goes smoother without them! However, if those colleagues feel excluded, it's possible they will undermine the strategy (whether unintentionally or intentionally). HR needs to meet with all stakeholders and make sure they feel the strategy is on track and working.
In part one of this series, we mentioned that there's an established process for creating a strategy. It includes making some general assumptions about what is taking place in the business world. HR needs to regularly monitor those assumptions to make sure they're still applicable. For example, a change in unemployment could impact engagement, learning, performance or all three.
This is also a good time to mention a quick tip: if a strategy isn't working, don't hesitate to abandon it. One of the biggest mistakes companies can make is throwing resources at something that isn't working just to save the ego of an executive or a team that created the strategy in the first place.
Maintaining an HR strategy can be difficult
We've talked about measurement. Now, let's go back to maintenance, using the people and process concept.
HR gets feedback from stakeholders about how the strategy is working (i.e. people). They regularly evaluate the assumptions that the strategy was based on (i.e. process). Then, that should explain how to maintain the program, right? I realize that sounds very simple.
In reality, it's not. Here's why: It takes time to talk with stakeholders and really listen to their feedback. Listening is hard work. Organizations need to look for opportunities to build feedback mechanisms into their culture. Employee feedback should be encouraged and genuine. Everyone needs to be trained on how to effectively give and receive feedback. And feedback must be acted upon, even if it's to say that the feedback will not be acted upon.
In addition, it takes time and resources to evaluate processes. Organizations should look at data and be able to effectively turn data into action. Today's technology gives us a tremendous amount of information. Employees should receive training on problem-solving, critical thinking and project management. Having numbers but not knowing what to do with them won't accomplish the company's HR strategy.
Use people and process to keep HR strategies aligned
In today's brisk business environment where everything moves quickly, every strategy should be monitored, measured and maintained. The good news for HR is that there are many different ways to do that. All of them involve getting a mix of feedback from the right people and following a sound process. Find the method that works for your organization and use it to make your strategies the best blend of people and processes they can be.