Looking for leadership support

Have you ever felt that you did not have the support and leadership buy-in to fulfil the HR promise to staff?

Dear HRM Magazine Asia,

I keep hearing about the volatile business environment – but mostly as a reason for reduced budgets. In my organisation – a larger SME, it has meant a stripped back HR team that is no longer able to keep up with the employee demand for services.  Have you ever felt that you did not have the support and leadership buy-in to fulfil the HR promise to staff, and how did you respond?

- Looking for support

Jane Horan: You’re facing your share of cuts, and will have to simply learn to do more with less. We’ve all been there. It’s hard to balance both employee promises and budget constraints. But (and this is vital), there is a silver lining.

Constraints drive innovation. Take some quality time to reflect on your work environment and market conditions, as both are precursors to what needs changing. You must re-think what the business needs (not, what it wants) from an HR perspective. Re-shape the HR offering, and re-kindle your relationships, with a diverse community of experts internally. This last step provides support, a necessity when you don't have enough of it from higher up.

Create a network map of your organisation. Think broadly across functions and look for the interconnections. Make sure you have a diverse group, which includes the management team and employees. Consider bringing five or six members of this network together to define the employee experience – not through perks but by understanding how employees interact with the firm, internally and externally.

Use structured problem-solving or a design thinking (a method used by designers to solve complex problems) approach to collectively solve this challenge. Use the collective wisdom of the group to keep certain things and toss out others. Review your revised HR plan and map it against the budget. Test the idea with a broadly before rolling it out, and then communicate it across the organisation.

What you'll get in return is an engaged work environment which will reinforce company values and commitment and create dedicated employee champions along with an informal group of mentors for guidance. 

Dr. Jane Horan is an expert in career transitions, unconscious bias and cross-cultural leadership. An internationally-recognised speaker, she is the author of "I Wish I’d Known That Earlier in My Career: The Power of Positive Workplace Politics", a business book used by corporate universities globally, and "How Asian Women Lead: Lessons for Global Corporations" to show new perspectives on leadership and careers, published by Palgrave Macmillan.

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