How HR leaders can review their landscape when new in post

Featured, Strategy, Resourcing

New HR leaders should review their landscape with pace and purpose. Here are the key areas to focus on when collecting insights to fuel your strategy.

The crucial first 100 days of your new senior HR role will involve an intense period of relationship-building, data collecting and reviewing your landscape.

It’s a fundamentally important opportunity to learn how the business works and how employees feel about working there.

But without a clear plan of action, this process can be overwhelming.

Which is why we’ve produced the following summary of the key areas to focus on and explained how a targeted approach can yield the greatest insight.

In this blog we cover:

  • How to hunt and gather
  • Why it’s important to ‘get on the tools’
  • Mapping out your HR landscape

Hunt and gather

In these early days you'll be keen to meet and greet with as many stakeholders as possible. As well as being important for relationship-building, this window will also be your only opportunity to experience what it’s like to be an employee within the organisation. Or perhaps more pertinently, a new employee.

However, planning and executing this process can be overwhelming. There’s likely to be a lot of people on your radar, and you’ll be on theirs.

Try to break down your schedule into a list of broad, not granular, one week, one month and three-month objectives. Make notes on what you’re looking to achieve at each stage gate.

Here are a few of the more obvious questions you’ll want to get answers to:

  • How does the business make money? Where are the challenges?
  • What’s our unique competitive advantage?
  • What are the current market conditions? Are they likely to change soon?
  • What do I need to know? What needs to change? What’s working well?
  • What do people value about the organisation? What don’t they like?
  • What is the pre-existing perception of HR?
  • How do we stack-up to the competition on product/service, pay, benefits and training and development?
  • Which workforce operations require change and what should this look like?

You’ll want to be prepared with a barrage of (recurring) questions, before seeking out the right people to get responses.

When approaching different segments, allow for freedom in your approach. For example, senior executives and functional heads will value structured one-on-one interviews that produce clarity and afford you a high-level understanding of the business outlook and workforce strategy.

Meanwhile, it can be more beneficial to run wider, more collaborative focus groups with the company at large.

Finally, there’s the all-important analytical side to consider too.

Today’s HR leader is expected to rely on facts, not intuition. And know how to get the qualitative and quantitative data they require to prove the function’s value on return. Use this initial stage to gather what you need over approximately 30-45 days.

Key areas to think about:

  • Review all employee surveys to understand opinions about the business, HR function and any other trends.
  • Build continuous, real-time feedback loops with employees to gauge their satisfaction. Survey employees after they have interacted with HR/information portals. Did they find what they were looking for?
  • Run-through your HR information system (HRIS) to start mapping a holistic view of your workforce strategy. When do employees typically join or leave? When do they earn pay rises and promotions? What is the demographic make-up of the organisation?

Guidance:
Listen carefully and absorb the useful information you need to hone your strategic objectives. Side issues and superfluous detail can be dealt with further down the line.

Get 'on the tools'

Without wishing to labour the point, getting in amongst your colleagues is going to give you valuable insight.

While engagement surveys are a useful part of the HR mix, spending time on the ground will give you an authentic feel for what people think about the organisation, what they like about their jobs – and what they don’t.

On a practical level, this will likely involve shadowing and spending time within specific functions to gain a greater understanding of how ‘stuff gets done’.

Listen to how colleagues interact with each other. Through their everyday conversations you’ll pick-up on cues that will tell you a lot about the company and its culture.

And when choosing where to go, target the important strategic areas where employees are densely populated.

Finally, don’t forget to factor in the sources of information that exist outside your business.

External HR service providers will be able to provide their own perspective on your employees and the function’s effectiveness.

Meanwhile, your customers represent another potential goldmine. Find out more about their needs and experiences and how this may affect your workforce.

Guidance:
As well as attending meetings or company meet-ups that you’re invited to, think about those you’re not involved in. Could you be? And where else could HR add value?

Map it all out

Now that you have a thorough understanding of your organisation’s structure and hierarchies (however they exist), it’s time to visualise.

Plot out the people and processes that add the most value to HR, and create actionable, repeatable frameworks to engage. 

As an overview, your Executive team, HR team, team (company) functions, external providers, and of course your customers, will be the main ports of call.

Within each group there will be a whole bunch of systems, tools and mechanisms by which you'll glean data and insights. 

Create your own version of the graphic below and consistently refer back to ensure it remains fit for purpose. 

blue-and-black-circles-hr-diagram

By mapping out your key areas of focus and team/individual touchpoints, you can begin to turn your insights into workforce and function strategies.

Having a visual will also give you a head-start when you next need or want to check-in with key stakeholders and systems. 

Want more guidance?

The content for this blog has been taken from ‘Your First 100 Days – HR Edition’. Get the guide to gain more insight into navigating your initial orientation. 

Here's to your continued success!

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