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How to Become a Strategic HR Department with a Seat at the Table: Stop Asking and Start Doing

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HR seat at table

Human Resources (HR) Departments have been asking and looking for ways to get a seat at the table for some years now. However, in a recent survey (HR.BLR.com 2015), only 33.3% of survey respondents say HR is viewed as a strategic partner by management teams. So, how does an HR Department increase these results?

Here are 5 actionable ways to help your HR Department become a Strategic Business Partner:

  1. Start with taking a more active role in understanding the business. If the different business units don’t see that HR understands their everyday challenges and goals, they are less likely to come to HR for ideas.

Here are some things you can start doing today to learn more about the business:

  • Learn about industry specific trends.
  • Meet with department leaders on a regular basis to learn more about individual department needs, challenges, and what will help make the department successful.
  • Attend department meetings consistently, not only when it’s convenient.


  1. Provide solutions that are in the company’s best interest. As HR begins to understand the challenges and goals of the business and its departments, HR will be better equipped to provide solutions that contribute to the company’s success. In turn, the business will respond positively and look for more ways for HR to contribute to their success.


  1. Simplify and streamline HR practices and deliver. HR in the past was mostly about creating policies and procedures to keep businesses safe. However, some of these policies and procedures can lead to what others see as red tape that slows down other business practices. Think about it… Just because things have been done a certain way in the past, doesn’t mean it can’t change in the present or the future.

In keeping an open mind, here are some ways HR teams can learn to simplify and streamline their processes:

  • Speak with different department leaders to learn what various HR policies and procedures may be hindering the department’s performance.
  • Create a plan to look for ways to tackle the most common issues that come up
  • Deliver on your promises by creating service level agreements to ensure everyone is on the same page and know what to expect.


  1. Know your numbers. It has become increasing more important for HR teams to measure the impact of their decisions. After all, how is HR to prove their impact on the business if they don’t know the results of their efforts? Keep in mind, when measuring impact, it is important to make sure the HR analytics tie back to the overall business strategies and not just to the individual initiatives the HR Department is working on.


  1. Look for ways to incorporate technology. Technology is pretty much in everything we do today. It aids in streamlining and creating more efficient business processes. There is now a multitude of options of HR specific software to help with everything from recruiting and hiring, delivering information to people in different locations, and reporting. When looking at ways HR can improve its practices and be viewed as strategic partner, it is imperative to leverage technology.

Remember, that change takes time especially when it involves changing people’s thoughts and perceptions, so persistence and consistency here is key to becoming successful. Incorporating these 5 actionable ways will go a long way in helping your HR Department develop more credibility and in turn, become a more Strategic Business Partner.



HR.BLR.com. (2015). Survey: 1 in 3 management teams view HR as a strategic partner. Retrieved from http://hr.blr.com/HR-news/HR-Administration/HR-Strategy/Management-teams-view-HR-strategic-partner/

Njemanze, I. (2016). What Does Being a Strategic HR Business Partner Look Like in Practice?. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1109&context=student

Andersen, E. (2013).  4 Ways To Become A Strategic Business Partner (And Why You Should Want To). Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikaandersen/2013/09/06/4-ways-to-become-a-strategic-business-partner-and-why-you-should-want-to/#7802869123c1

Ibarra, P. (2008). Get Up, Get Out, Get On It: How Human Resources Can Become a Strategic Partner. Retrieved from http://webapps.icma.org/pm/9001/public/pmplus1.cfm?title=Get%20Up%2C%20Get%20Out%2C%20Get%20On%20It%3A%20How%20Human%20Resources%20Can%20Become%20a%20Strategic%20Partner&subtitle=&author=Patrick%20Ibarra

Cole, K. (2016). Don’t confuse having a seat at the table with having a voice. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/dont-confuse-having-seat-table-voice-kat-cole

Onboarding – Simple Ways for Getting Your New Employee up to Speed Quickly and Efficiently

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Why is this important?

            The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced in a release on September 22, 2016, as of January 2016, the median number of years a person has been with his/her current employer is 4.2 years, which is down from 4.6 years reported for January 2014. The median tenure is even worse for those within the age range of 24-34 being at 2.8 years in January. Given these trends and where they’ll continue to go, it’s even more important today than ever for organizations to have structured or at least semi-structured and efficient onboarding processes. These processes can lead to getting employees acclimated and performing up to 2 months faster (Society for Human Resources Management 2010).

Simple Ways for Getting Your New Employee up to Speed Quickly and Efficiently

Preparing before the new hire starts. Let’s start with a few simple tips we can implement to provide an immediate impact:

  • Document processes – Understand the length of time it takes to get a new computer, phone, and/or email set up; access to computer systems requests, etc.
  • Create a play book – All employees can take a role in this; depending on the department and projects, it’s always a great idea to document knowledge employees have learned along the way to make their jobs easier and pass that on new employees.
  • Create a performance expectations plan – Writing down the expectations you have for the new hire to accomplish, clearly and concisely; detailing when to follow up, ensuring the new hire is on track. 90-days is a good length of time to start with, depending on the complexity of the job.

First day impressions matter. Here are a few tips to ensure your new employee feels welcomed confirming he or she made the right decision to join your company:

  • Set aside time in the morning to meet with the manager or someone from the team to show the person around the office and help him/her get set up on the computer or with particular IT programs he/she may be using (if applicable).
  • Have a team lunch to have the new hire get to know the team and vice versa in an informal setting.
  • Set aside time during the day for the manager to go over the performance expectations plan and set up dates for follow up.
  • Set up a mentor-mentee relationship between a senior member of the team or the company and the new employee. This way the new employee will have access to someone he/she can go to with questions/to seek advice if the manager is unavailable.

In the end, having an onboarding program will lead to improved job satisfaction, higher performance levels, lower stress, lower turnover (Society for Human Resources Management 2010) for employees, and ultimately lower turnover costs for employers.



Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2016). Employee tenure summary. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/news.release/tenure.nr0.htm

Bauer, Tayla N. Ph.D (2010). Onboarding new employees: Maximizing success. Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/about/foundation/products/documents/onboarding%20epg-%20final.pdf

Andriotis, N. (2016). All aboard the eLearning train: Onboarding with eFrontPro. Retrieved from https://www.efrontlearning.com/blog/2016/07/onboarding-with-efrontpro.html

Who is Your Successor?

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How many times have you heard a friend or family member say, “that place would fall apart without me,” as they regale you with the latest story about their job? You might just roll your eyes and dismiss their remarks as blatant exaggerations, but they may not be far from the truth. Many organizations are not prepared for the loss of an employee, which makes the damage much harder to control.

The next 15 years will present significant challenges for organizations as the Baby Boomers begin a mass exodus from key leadership positions into retirement. In addition to retirement, companies continue to lose key leaders due to promotion, attrition, illness, and death. Deloitte reports “fewer than one in four private company boards say they have a formal succession plan in place.” This staggering reality suggests most organizations will experience turnover turmoil in the near future.

While a CEO is generally considered the face of a company, many other positions are critical to operations. Organizations failing to prepare for the loss of key leadership positions risk a negative market reaction as they struggle to fill the vacancy. Investors are more likely to sell company shares during leadership transitions rather than buy them.

Succession planning helps prepare an organization for leadership transitions, expected and unexpected. Planning is not as simple as identifying a replacement for each position. It involves developing several employees to step into crucial positions, which prevents disruptions to business operations.

EDC can help you identify and develop employee potential within your organization. We are committed to helping organizations develop the right employees for continued development and promotion. So how do you begin?

  • Make a commitment to developing a plan and reviewing it regularly, including time and resources. Form a succession planning committee that includes the key leaders whose positions require a planned successor.
  • Conduct regular talent reviews for each key leadership position. Review the potential successors, identify their level of readiness, and target key areas requiring development.
  • Develop employees throughout the organization, even if they are not part of the succession plan yet. Commit to helping all employees prepare for success at the next level.
  • Integrate succession planning with human resources tasks including recruitment, selection, and performance management. Maintain transparency about succession planning and how it works. All employees should understand the process.
  • Manage expectations of all employees. Potential successors must prepare for non-selection. Key leaders must prepare to let go when the time comes.

Succession planning is not a guarantee, it is back-up plans A, B, and C!



Deloitte. (2015). Business succession planning: Cultivating enduring value. Retrieved from https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/deloitte-growth-enterprise-services/articles/business-succession-planning-report-series.html

McCarthy, D. (2016). 10 Succession planning best practices. IVY Exec. Retrieved from https://www.ivyexec.com/executive-insights/2013/10-succession-planning-best-practices/

Times, M. (2016, October). Leadership handoffs: CEO buy-in and involvement are required to make succession planning work. TD Magazine. Retrieved from the Michigan eLibrary database.

Accountemps. (2017, February 21). 7 Steps to Building a Succession Plan for Success. Robert Half. Retrieved March 14, 2017, from https://www.roberthalf.com/accountemps/blog/7-steps-to-building-a-succession-plan

Performance Management

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performance-appraisal-cropped-620x250 2-28-17 linkedin post

Retrieved from http://playbook.amanet.org/sample-teamwork-phrases-for-performance-appraisal/

You arrive for work in a great mood. As you sit down at your desk, you notice a thin red circle encompassing today’s date. Your heart sinks. Today is your annual employee evaluation. This afternoon you will listen to your boss stumble through an explanation of whether or not you met an unclear standard in several ambiguous categories such as “overall performance,” or “motivation.”

Does this sound familiar? Many people have experienced this awkward exchange, unclear of how it truly relates to their performance. If this still the case in your organization, it is time harness the power of an improved performance management system.

Unlike annual reviews, a performance management system is a valuable tool to help improve employee performance and motivation. It begins with establishing clear performance expectations that align with the organization’s strategic goals including specific, measurable expectations, which provide an objective way to measure performance.

Examples of specific performance expectations:

  • Provide excellent customer service resulting in a 90% customer satisfaction rating in the following categories: resolution time, courtesy, and knowledge.
  • Complete department profit and loss statement by the 15th of every month without increasing reconciliation errors.
  • Complete all employee skills training and validation by February to ensure 100% compliance with certification requirements.

When an employee understands the expectations, they can focus their energy on meeting the specific goals. Frequent reviews of their progress and performance will help identify personal strengths as well as specific training and development needs. Increasing the frequency of feedback decreases the anxiety associated with annual reviews and contributes to continuous employee improvement.

When linked with employee development programs, performance management systems can also help organizations effectively identify and prepare future leaders within their organization. EDC will partner with your organization to develop an improved talent management system including assessment methods, training, and executive coaching. Let us help you make the most out of performance management.

The Changing Role of Leadership

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leadership posting

Organizations have changed drastically over the last several decades. Technological advancements require employees to expand their scope of knowledge and take on greater responsibility. This leads to a reduction in the traditional layers of management. Organizations today need more than just a person to tell employees what to do… they need leaders.

Leadership is not about rigid structure and uniformity. Every individual has different needs, both personal and professional. It is important to recognize that what works for one follower may not work for another. Needs also change over time as followers continue to grow, which might include advancing education, new personal relationships, children, or involvement in the local community. A leader must remain flexible and encouraging, adapting to and embracing change. The leader facilitates the balance between success at work and at home, which encourages peak performance from followers.

Leadership is not about supervising individual tasks; it’s about engaging and motivating employees. A good leader must empower employees, giving them the tools and resources they need to succeed. This does not mean providing overly restrictive guidance for each assigned task. The role of the leader is to identify the desired end result, communicate, and provide feedback along the way. In turn, followers take creative and innovative risks.  Creating a safe environment for followers helps them learn by trial and error, which leads to more diverse ideas and better performance over time.

Although the role of the leader has changed over time, there is one aspect of leadership that remains consistent. Followers continue to demand a leader who sets a good example, maintaining high ethical and moral standards. A good leader lives the mission and vision of the organization, helping followers to do the same.

The modern leader is the champion of change, leads by example, and empowers followers to reach their highest potential, which requires high ethical standards, flexibility, and excellent two-way communication. Are you a modern leader? Here at EDC, we believe one key to leadership success is constantly learning and growing. We help leaders develop their existing strengths, enhancing their ability to succeed in the changing role of leadership.



Giles, S. (2016, March 15). The most important leadership competencies, according to leaders around the world. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2016/03/the-most-important-leadership-competencies-according-to-leaders-around-the-world?

Ketter, P. (2012, March). What leaders need to do. T+D, 66(3), 10. Retrieved from Academic OneFile database.