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The Future of HR: Four Strategies to Meet Business Challenges and Deliver Maximum Impact

  • Human Resources
  • Article
  • 6 min. Read
  • Last Updated: 06/27/2016
future of hr
At the 2016 Society for Human Resource Managements (SHRM's) Annual Conference and Exposition in Washington, D.C., Jennifer McClure urged HR professionals to evolve if they are to thrive in the business environment that lies ahead. Here's how.

Table of Contents

Where is the field of human resources (HR) going? “The future of HR is curious, determined, innovative and disruptive,” says Jennifer McClure, speaking at the 2016 Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM’s) Annual Conference and Exposition in Washington, D.C. In her June 21 mega-session, McClure urged HR professionals to evolve if they are to thrive in the business environment that lies ahead.

McClure is president of Unbridled Talent LLC, an HR consulting and advisory firm. She believes that HR leaders who master four competencies will deliver more value and drive greater executive support within the organization:

  • Know the business;
  • Think strategically;
  • Solve problems; and
  • Take risks.

Ultimately, McClure says, improving your capabilities as an HR professional can help align personnel strategies with organizational objectives. You are not an HR leader; rather, you are a business leader who works in HR.

Know the Business

Gain a fundamental understanding of your business’ needs and the data required to assess those needs, McClure says. For example, if you’re HR director for a hospital, you must understand the demographics of the patients you serve, the medical specialties that address their needs, and how to attract employees who fit the culture and purpose of your organization. Your grasp of this big picture, as well as the details it comprises, makes HR a valuable strategic partner in the hospital’s leadership.

Think Strategically

Worry less about having a seat at the table and more about what you can contribute to the company, McClure says. “How can we make HR a strategic business partner? Stop focusing on HR issues. Start focusing on business issues. You have to solve the biggest problems in the business; if you don’t, nothing else matters.” This is a tall order, certainly. “Courage and influence are critical.”

Solve Problems

Business leaders want results. Make process improvements, demonstrate cost savings, boost morale, increase productivity — identify difficulties in your domain and apply remedies.

Take Risks

Show corporate leaders that you’re not afraid of challenge. Try new ways of doing things. Study HR practices used in other organizations and explore their application in your company. Demonstrate a dynamic management style, rather than complacence with the status quo.

Five Tips

McClure then provided five tips to help develop career agility:

  • Shift your thinking – Think of yourself as more than an HR leader

@JenniferMcClure tip 1: You are not an HR leader - you are a business leader who works in HR. #SHRM16 @octanner

— Jordan Rogers (@EngageJordan) June 21, 2016 @EngageJordan
  • Feed your brain – Seek out learning opportunities

Recent study: Just by reading, you become smarter and more creative - regardless of topic. @JenniferMcClure #SHRM16 #YAYBooks

— Mary Faulkner (@mfaulkner43) June 21, 2016 @mfaulkner43
  • Find your tribe – Connect with those who share your values and aspirations

@JenniferMcClure's action plan 3: connect with your tribe (presumably props to @SethGodinBlog) #SHRM16

— Phillip Evans (@pmke) June 21, 2016 @pmke
  • Focus on impact – Setting lofty goals is one thing, but can you deliver?

#SHRM16 #FutureofHR @JenniferMcClure we have the ability to impact people & change lives! Be happy!

— Wendy Dailey (@wyndall93) June 21, 2016 @wyndall93
  • Step out – Expand your knowledge, direct a project, make a presentation, apply for a promotion

Final action step: step out-take advantage of opportunities & take risks #SHRM16 @JenniferMcClure

— Kelly Marinelli (@KellyinBoulder) June 21, 2016 @KellyinBoulder

By stretching your skills and capabilities, thinking tactically and focusing on results, you’ll evolve into the HR professional the future requires.

Image Credit: Lisa Fleming



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* This content is for educational purposes only, is not intended to provide specific legal advice, and should not be used as a substitute for the legal advice of a qualified attorney or other professional. The information may not reflect the most current legal developments, may be changed without notice and is not guaranteed to be complete, correct, or up-to-date.