By Hank Provost
Having a strategic mindset and orientation can be a differentiator for professionals in almost all professions. Strategy as a link between tactics and mission have become the major value that leaders and professionals can offer in their team leadership and when guiding their teammates.
Human Resources (HR) professionals sit in a unique place organizationally to be of strategic value to their clients and colleagues. HR instills, controls, and drives some of the most critical and important resources that enable the organization to find success at all levels. There is no lack of opportunity for HR Professionals to link the organizations mission and vision with solutions that enable them to find the success they need for their customers, clients, employees, leaders, and organizations financial well-being.
Strategy as a link between tactics and mission have become the major value that leaders and professionals can offer in their team leadership and when guiding their teammates.
Here are six ways in which Human Resource Professionals can build their strategic capacity.
Learn about your organization’s strategy: When was the last time you asked for the strategic plan of your organization? Did you know there was one? The most basic step you can take for building a strategic mindset is to read your organization’s strategic plan. Keep it close by and refer to it often. Mention it in the conversations you have with your clients, colleagues, and senior leaders in the organization. If you don’t know the strategic plan of your own organization, you can’t possibly be considered a strategist.
Read about different approaches to strategy creation: There is no end to the literature on strategy, how to build strategy, theories on different approaches to strategies, and ways to apply strategy to your work. All you need to do is an internet search for books on strategy. Harvard Business Review has endless articles on the subject. Don’t worry about finding the best literature, just start reading about strategy and build your personal reservoir of knowledge on the topic. You will be amazed at how quickly the knowledge shows up in your work with clients.
Expose yourself to different approaches to strategy leadership: There is no better way to learn as an adult than to be exposed to new experiences. Every one of your client leaders is working or struggling with creating strategic intents in the execution of their operating objectives. Don’t shy away from putting yourself in situations where you can observe the discussions and work of your clients as they work on strategy. Even if you don’t have an active role, just being there gives you credibility and more exposure to how teams and leaders think about the longer term.
Find a mentor/coach who can challenge your strategic thinking: There are at least a few people in your organization who are working on strategy. They may be in the strategy team (if you have one), or sitting in finance, or operations, or somewhere. They may not always have that strategy title, but they are more focused on the longer-term success of the business.
Pursue higher learning: For a lot of people, pursuing more education is a natural way to build critical thinking and strategic ability. Regardless of the specific program, most graduate-level work builds critical strategic thinking skills as much as it teaches specific content. People are going back to school at all stages of life these days, so age is not a determinant or barrier to taking this step. Keeping your competitive edge usually requires expanding your knowledge.
Be involved in strategy development sessions: This approach is one of the best approaches to building your strategic capacity. Where it is possible, involve yourself in strategy development sessions. Maybe you have someone facilitate a strategy-building session with your team so you can learn together with your team. Strategy is more a group process than something you do on your own. But either way, learning alongside others can be a powerful and meaningful experience.