How to Take a Business-first Approach to HR

Give your HR function a seat at the table with these tips from Dick Randazzo

Dick Randazzo | AARP | Executive Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer | HR Credentials: Randazzo’s strategic approach has given the AARP a leaner HR team that aligns its efforts to the business at every level. The function is completely accessible and responsive to its customers: all AARP employees.

Start at the Top

“When building a strategic HR function, step one is to talk to the CEO and other senior staff. Ask the CEO what are the expectations? What do you want done here? What would you describe as success for me in this role?”

Assess the Talent of Your People

“Look at all the people in your HR organization. Determine who’s there, what they’re working on, and ask whether it is tied to the business. Is it going to be responsive to what you got out of the CEO?”

 Share the Philosophy

“Get your team of HR people together. Set expectations in terms of what you are doing in making HR a strategic partner and share philosophy of the role. Lay out what HR needs to do from a behavioral and commitment standpoint, stressing the need to
take up business acumen. Get people out of their comfort zone by giving them feedback and providing challenging assignments. Then you see whether or not they can contribute.”

Map the Organizational Construct

“You have to establish a strategic partnership with the other business units. Look at your HR organization and see if you’re set up to service the needs of the organization.”

Create a System of Functional Excellence

“Translate the mission of the enterprise to your department and evaluate your team on their company understanding. Know: Who are your customers? What processes do you need to map? Are you hiring to retire? Functionally, there are things the CEO has no idea that you do as an HR professional. The CEO understands when something goes wrong, but your job is to make sure you are delivering functional excellence.”

Check in with Peers

“As you move forward, you need to develop partnerships with people in every area. In some cases the management team will come to you with a need, but other times you need to see something and offer a plan of action. Recruitment, training and development, benefits, compensation plans—all of that stuff is yours to do in addition to servicing your customers (the other business units and employees) and helping move your business forward.”

Prove that You Are Value Added

“Always ask if what you’re bringing to the party is value added—incremental value the company wouldn’t get if you didn’t exist. A lot of organizations have an HR function, just to sit it in the corner to be called upon when needed. If you do this, you become
irrelevant, barely tolerated, and definitely smaller. But the real loser is the enterprise as this will diminish its probability of success.”