Getting there from here (Analysis)

Background in business needed for HR: Survey

There are differences of opinion as to whether HR professionals are strategic, or whether they are perceived to be strategic. But it was clear from the responses that HR professionals want to be strategic. The real question is how do we get there from here?

One survey respondent commented to the effect that “you should have given a definition of ‘strategic.’” The survey intentionally avoided defining what strategic means. You can sink fast and deep trying to define it. But we need to go there.

Many comments suggested HR professionals need a stronger background and preparation in business to be able to fully participate at the strategic level. Some suggested the best preparation would be something equivalent to an MBA. The idea is to think business first. Some respondents saw it as a shift between what is foreground and what is background — where the foreground is business and the background is HR.

These are topics we will examine in subsequent surveys. How much business knowledge should we expect of HR professionals? And what is the best way to increase business acumen?

Claude Balthazard is director, HR excellence, at the Toronto-based Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) of Ontario in Toronto. He can be reached at (416) 923-2324 or [email protected].

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