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Are you an HR entrepreneur?

Posted on from Cass Business School

Many in HR still adopt the approach that HR knows best and line management must be trained to conform to HR best practice, argues Chris Roebuck. How can you go beyond this and introduce ‘entrepreneurial’ HR?

1. Working with managers

Line managers usually have only a limited understanding of HR, so don’t know how you can help them. By being entrepreneurial, you can suggest the most appropriate support rather than using standard HR best practice.

2. Organisational performance

Your main objective is to support the maximisation of organisational performance. So, apply entrepreneurial HR principles everywhere, in both transactional and transformational HR activity. Stop doing anything that does not add value to the organisation, even if it’s seen as best practice. Focus on outcomes rather than roles, titles, or process for process sake, and prioritise long-term sustainability, over short-term fixes.

Everyone in HR must think like an entrepreneur, accurately assessing the situation, innovating, being flexible and taking managed risk. There is no best practice, only the ‘best current outcome’, which will vary between situations, organisations and times. This way, service delivery meets organisational need. If you can start to achieve this by being an HR entrepreneur, it will spread and help HR achieve the credibility it deserves.

3. Traits of an HR entrepreneur

To put this into practice, you can be working at any level or location. But you will need capabilities not usually associated with the HR profession:

  • Good core business knowledge eg. project management, customer service and financial understanding.
  • Insight into operational activity – almost as good as that of the line managers you support.
  • Understanding of the wider organisation and its strategic objectives. This should surpass that of line managers so you can keep them on track.
  • Awareness of the environment and market your business operates in, to pre-empt changes driven by external factors.
  • Outward vision – benchmarking the organisation not just against last year’s performance but against industry peers and best-in-class standards.
  • Be proactive in identifying ways to drive better business performance, not just HR, by looking for opportunities to improve external delivery.
  • Suggest initiatives that deliver maximum ROI with minimum resource and manage risk effectively by simplifying the process where possible.
  • Focus on delivering what the organisation needs strategically to sustainably improve for the future.

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