As the world evolves rapidly, sometimes work can feel like the only source of steadiness: the day-in, day-out routines of logging into work, meeting with the same colleagues, and completing repetitive tasks.
So of course it can be unsettling when big changes reverberate across the organisation, creating discomfort at best and chaos at worst. Managing change can be unyielding, but unmanaged change creates environments ripe for a wave of employee departures. That’s why having leaders on board with new HR strategies can help set expectations across the organisation, and improve participation rates of new initiatives and policies in the workplace.
“People don’t hate change. People hate poorly managed change,” said leadership coach Andrew Bailey in Lattice’s guest column Resourceful. People are more likely to respond positively to change when they see leaders modelling assurance and receptiveness.
The key, however, is getting executive leaders to embrace new HR strategies in the first place.
What is a Human Resources Strategy?
An HR strategy is exactly what it sounds like: a high-level, people-centred approach that human resources management teams put into action to drive business success, fuel growth, and make their company a meaningful and enjoyable place to work.
A lot of learning, reflection, and planning goes into choosing the right HR strategies for your business. Human resources teams have to consider things such as business strategies and future goals, potential risks and challenges down the road, internal and external analytics, and employee development.
Some concrete examples of HR strategies include:
- Investing in a performance management solution. Tools like Lattice give organisations a competitive advantage in improving the employee experience. Performance management systems ensure employees are working towards their individual goals, receiving recognition, and feeling valued in their workplace.
- Prioritising employee development and retention. By providing professional development opportunities, people managers can help tenured workers and new talent plan their career trajectories. HR management can support retention by implementing incentives such as mental wellness perks and access to educational courses, both work-related and for personal interest.
- Creating a remote-friendly workplace. Since the Great Reshuffle, flexible working hours and great work-life balance have become more in demand. As an effective HR strategy, hybrid work structures are known to increase employee performance and productivity, and provide needed safeguards for public health needs during the pandemic.
While it’s easy to assume HR strategies are separate from business strategies, the opposite is true. When human resources management is effective in engaging and supporting employees, workers are more empowered to reach their potential and meet business goals.
7 Ways to Get Leaders on Board With New HR Strategies
Having executive buy-in can be pivotal for strategic HR plans, because employees look to them to model attitudes toward company culture, work policies, and competencies that are necessary for long-term stability and growth.
HR departments can use these tactical approaches to get buy-in from leadership when introducing new strategies to make the whole adoption process as frictionless as possible for their company.
1. Involve management in the planning process.
Company leadership is typically very busy, no matter the size of the company you’re working for. Nevertheless, it’s essential to partner with management early on when you’re planning new HR strategies — if possible, right from the outset.
Let’s face it: it’s hard to convince someone an idea is worthwhile when they’re hearing about it for the first time. If you approach leadership wanting to implement a fully-planned-out human resources strategy they’re not familiar with, you’re likely to have little luck or a lot of pushback. They might feel blindsided or purposefully left out, neither of which are helpful for maintaining relationships with executives, let alone meeting business goals.
“When leadership is involved in the writing of a policy, the entire company benefits”, said Bill Harrison, Chief Technology Officer of ComplianceBridge. “Your leadership team will be the ones acting out and enforcing the new strategy, so their input will be invaluable.”
Whenever possible, involve leadership in meetings where you’re discussing company issues, brainstorming human resources solutions, and narrowing-down a shortlist of new strategies to prioritise. Even having just one managerial-level team member present can make a big impact because their buy-in is likely to have a domino effect on other managers.
2. Align HR strategies with company goals.
Effective goal setting is crucial for alignment at the employee, team, department, and company-wide level. Establishing intentional, specific objectives not only gives people clear targets to work toward, but it also reinforces who companies are and what’s most important to them.
If human resources strategies aren’t in line with company goals, they’ll be much harder to sell to management. However, if you can demonstrate how your desired HR strategies fit in with the business’s existing mission, values, and purpose, it’ll be easier for leadership to understand why the changes you want to make are so important.
Imagine one of your company’s core long-term plans is being both an authority in the tech space and regarded as an innovative, forward-thinking enterprise. With that kind of objective, it just wouldn’t make sense for your company to use inefficient, old-school performance management software. That would be a perfect talking point to convince leadership of the necessity of implementing a more advanced HR solution to fit in with the overarching company vision and future goals.
3. Start small and work your way up.
Overhauling HR strategies can be expensive, especially if they involve buying advanced software, developing new processes from the ground up, or restructuring how people work in a significant way.
Because leadership is generally concerned about their business’s bottom-line and how they can continue to make high profits, drive growth, and please stakeholders, it might not be easy to persuade them to spend money on a new HR strategy. A “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” attitude is common.
Say you want your company to adopt an expensive new software, but they’ve got a month-long free trial. It would be a great idea to opt in for the free trial, show leadership its potential, and then upgrade to a higher-priced plan once you’ve got everyone on board with your new solution.
That’s why you should break your long-term plan into smaller stages: start implementing it at the lowest cost possible, show management how it works in the real world and how much it can benefit the business, and then work your way up from there.
4. Leverage buy-in from other parties.
When presenting strategies to a leadership team, you can back up your ideas by gathering support from other stakeholders within (and beyond) the organisation. That can include new hires, tenured employees, company partners or shareholders depending on the size of your organisation. Demonstrating how other groups embrace and endorse your proposed changes to the company culture can help leaders get a fuller picture of just how beneficial new HR processes can be.
For example, “if burnout in the workplace is a problem, you can gather testimonials and suggestions from those involved to help emphasise the severity of the problem further”, said Mila Garcia, Co-Founder of iPaydayLoans. “The general idea is not to try and force your idea through, but rather to show them that you have all come together in agreement for the benefit of the organisation as a whole.”
To make preparation and data collection easier, you can point to existing engagement surveys that show trends and employee sentiments across the company. Try not to ambush leaders with new changes and external support at the same time — rather present the new strategies early on, and then discuss how you’ll survey or gather feedback from stakeholders to address concerns.
5. Be explicit about potential return-on-investment (ROI) and other metrics
Executive leaders are like any paying customer when being proposed new HR strategies. They must be convinced these solutions will be worth the expense, especially if they’re already looking for ways to tighten their belts.
Evaluating the ROI of HR policies isn’t as cut and dry as other business strategies. Start by taking a look at your company’s current goals and priorities, and then aligning the new HR strategies with the objectives and key results (OKRs) they’ll help achieve. Connecting those dots for leaders can help them see the tangible outcomes that will support cascading goals and metrics across the organisation.
For instance, if an HR software claims to boost work efficiency and cut working time by up to 25% with the help of automation, you have to support that with exact numbers. If you can tally up to the minutes and seconds saved, instead of hours, then do that.
Concrete data can help make informed changes to your strategies, especially when it proves your new HR solutions are better than the ones currently being used by the company.
6. Host training and information sessions for everyone.
New policies can’t go into effect without necessary instructions. Hosting educational sessions for information and training can help leaders more fully understand how new policies work, and feel better prepared to model them effectively. Training sessions can include guidelines, explanations of policies, and talking points for discussing them with employees across the organisation.
“This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page with regards to how the strategy should be implemented, what it will look like, and how to deal with non-compliance”, Harrison said.
HR managers can hold structured, educational training sessions for more in-depth policies with lots of moving parts, or make use of “office hours” style meetings when they anticipate one-off questions from just a few employees.
7. Keep the door open for feedback.
Like any business plan, it’s best to evaluate and measure success continuously. Feedback from leaders and employees is crucial for understanding what’s working and what isn’t. Asking for feedback from executives can help them feel more involved and invested in the implementation of HR strategies, and feel closer to employees.
Make sure leaders know who they can turn to with feedback or new ideas. Gathering feedback from leaders can keep HR practices aligned with company goals, and help HR leaders evaluate the employee experience at every level. It can even help HR teams to more quickly identify when new strategies may need further adjustment.
Don’t forget to use data from OKRs as feedback, too. The metrics that are helpful for getting executives on board right now might not be useful for business performance in the long term. Keep an eye on key performance indicators (KPIs) as you implement your changes, and consistently evaluate them to decide if you need to add new metrics or eliminate redundant ones.
Creating Impactful HR Strategies With Lattice
The future of work is changing — if the past several years are any indication, it’s time for organisations to rethink how they’re supporting and prioritising the needs of their workforce.
Companies are better equipped to weather the coming changes when HR teams and executives are on the same page. Being fully aligned in goals and priorities can launch organisations to the forefront of people management success with agility and resilience.
Lattice helps HR professionals make data-driven decisions to shape the best people strategies for their organisations. To learn more about what Lattice tools can do for you, request a demo.